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Assisted Suicide Charge Dropped Against Pa. Woman

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(Barbara Mancini of Philadelphia, right, leaves the office of magisterial district judge James Reiley in Pottsville, Pa. in August 2013 after her preliminary hearing on a charge of aiding a suicide.   Photo by Nick Meyer, used with permission of the Republican-Herald)

(Barbara Mancini of Philadelphia, right, leaves the office of magisterial district judge James Reiley in Pottsville, Pa. in August 2013 after her preliminary hearing on a charge of aiding a suicide. Photo by Nick Meyer, used with permission of the Republican-Herald)

POTTSVILLE, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania judge dismissed an assisted suicide charge Tuesday against a nurse accused of handing her 93-year-old terminally ill father a bottle of morphine. (See Related Story)

Prosecutors failed to prove any crime occurred and largely based their case against Barbara Mancini on speculation, Schuylkill County Judge Jacqueline L. Russell wrote in a 47-page ruling.

“A jury may not receive a case where it must rely on conjecture to reach a verdict,” she wrote. The case couldn’t be sent to jurors because of both a lack of evidence and “the commonwealth’s reliance on speculation and guess serving as an inappropriate means to prove its case.”

Mancini, 57, of Philadelphia, was charged last summer with giving a nearly full bottle of morphine to her father, Joseph Yourshaw, at his Pottsville home in February 2013 for the purpose of helping him end his life. Yourshaw died at a hospital four days later after a hospice nurse called 911.

A group called Compassion & Choices, which supports aid in dying and other end-of-life decisions, praised the ruling.

“This case demonstrates that the government has no business interfering in families’ end-of-life decisions,” said Compassion & Choices Chief Program Officer Mickey MacIntyre. “This prosecution could have chilled end-of-life decisions and pain care for millions of future terminally ill patients who simply want to die at home, peacefully and with dignity.”

The state attorney general’s office declined to comment Tuesday, saying prosecutors has not yet seen the judge’s decision.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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