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Kevorkian Murder Trial Ordered

A Michigan judge has ordered Dr. Jack Kevorkian to stand trial on a charge of murder and assisted suicide.

Kevorkian is charged with the death by injection of Thomas Youk, who had Lou Gehrig's disease. A videotape of Yohk's death was shown recently on the CBS television program, 60 Minutes.

"The intent to kill was premeditated and thought out beforehand," District Judge Phyllis McMillen said Wednesday afternoon.

McMillen also ordered him tried on a charge of delivering a controlled substance.

Prosecutors say the primary evidence against Kevorkian will be the 60 Minutes videotape.

"I think the main evidence is the one he provided to the whole country," said Oakland County prosecutor John Skrzynski.

The case is the first to use the assisted suicide law, which mentions murder only in reference to coercing someone to commit suicide. On tape, Youk is shown sitting while a figure - Kevorkian's face is not shown - injects him with drugs to put him to sleep and stop his heart.

Kevorkian is believed to have injected Youk with a fatal dose of potassium chloride at the 52-year-old man's Waterford Township home on Sept. 17, three weeks after Michigan's latest assisted suicide law went into effect.

Kevorkian dared prosecutors to charge him after he provided the videotape showing the euthanasia of the man. The tape was seen by more than 15 million households on Nov. 22.

If convicted of murder, Kevorkian could face a mandatory life sentence. The assisted suicide charge carries up to a five-year sentence; a controlled substance charge carries up to seven years in prison.

CBS News Correspondent Diana Olick reports that the case is not about Kevorkian but about euthanasia. If it finally goes to trial, it could be the definitive case over euthanasia.

Kevorkian has acknowledged a role in some 130 assisted suicides since 1990, but said Youk's death was his first euthanasia. In previous cases, he said, he had an apparatus that let the patient start the flow of drugs or lethal gas.

In his closing arguments, defense lawyer David Gorosh argued that Kevorkian should not be tried on both murder and assisted suicide charges.

"It's a legal impossibility, it's a logical impossibility, it's a medical impossibility that Thomas Youk could have killed himself and also be killed," Gorosh said.

McMillen said the defense presented a compelling case to drop that charge, but said what occurred prior to the decision to have Kevorkian inject Youk was a plan to end his life.

"On the '60 Minutes' tape...Dr. Kevorkian does directly discuss the fact that Mr. Youk originally was interested in the assisted suicide, but that in talking to him, they decided upon the direct injection as a means of accomplishing that end," she said.

In testimony Wednesday morning, Oakland County Medical Examiner L.J. Dragovic said that during Youk's autopsy, he saw fresh punctue wounds on Youk's wrists that had been covered with makeup. He also said potassium chloride killed Youk.

While Kevorkian has said he would represent himself, a team of legal advisers, including Gorosh and Lisa Dwyer, actually presented his case Wednesday. Both are former public defenders.

Kevorkian also has asked Robert Sedler, a Wayne State University professor of law, and Brad Feldman, a lawyer who passed the bar a month ago, to help his case.

Kevorkian's former lawyers, Geoffrey Fieger and Michael Schwartz, have said they would not help.

The case is the first to use Michigan's law banning assisted suicide, which went into effect Sept. 1.

Kevorkian has been free on a $750,000 personal bond since the charges were filed.