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Published April 18, 2012, 11:24 AM

Appeals court hears ex-nurse's aiding suicide case

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The attorney for an ex-nurse who encouraged two depressed people to commit suicide told a Minnesota appellate court that the man's conviction should be overturned on free-speech grounds.

By: AMY FORLITI, Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The attorney for an ex-nurse who encouraged two depressed people to commit suicide told a Minnesota appellate court that the man's conviction should be overturned on free-speech grounds.

William Melchert-Dinkel (MEL'-kert DINK'-uhl) was convicted last year of aiding the suicides of a British man and a Canadian woman. He was sentenced to 360 days in jail.

Melchert-Dinkel admitted going online and giving the victims advice on how to hang themselves.

His attorney, Terry Watkins, told the judges Wednesday that his client has what he called a "disgusting" desire to watch people hang themselves. But Watkins said Melchert-Dinkel did nothing more than give emotional support to the victims.

Assistant Rice County Attorney Benjamin Bejar (BEE'-har) argued the former nurse had a set method and plan to lure people to commit suicide.

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