Assisted suicide advocate Jack Kevorkian dies at age 83 at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (WXYZ) - Assisted-suicide advocate, Jack Kevorkian died early Friday morning at the age of 83 at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak.

Kevorkian had been hospitalized since last month with pneumonia and kidney problems.

His good friend and former attorney Geoffrey Fieger said that Kevorkian passed away peacefully. Fieger praised Beaumont Hospital for making him comfortable in his death.

Mayer Morganroth told the Associated Press Friday that hospital workers played Kevorkian's favorite piece of classical music as he passed away.

The world first learned of Dr. Jack Kevorkian in June of 1990, when Jane Adkins' life ended in the back of his old Volkswagen van.

The 54-year-old woman from Oregon was the first to die with Kevorkian's suicide machine, a contraption that released a lethal mix of drugs into a patient's system with just the push of a button.

It was Adkin's death that catapulted Kevorkian and the issue of physician-assisted suicide onto the national scene.

It was on the national scene that Kevorkian picked up the nickname "Dr. Death." He and his attorney Geoffrey Fieger also drew attention due to their antics in the courtroom.

Their flair for drama was expressed with everything from powdered wigs and being carried in the courtroom to hunger strikes in jail.

Kevorkian had his fair share of opposition. Twice, laws were passed prohibiting assisted suicide and groups representing the disabled called him a serial murderer.

Despite criticism, Kevorkian always insisted he was acting to end pain and suffering. He often called for the action of other doctors saying that end-of-life decisions for the terminally ill should be regulated not illegal.

Kevorkian would later be stripped of his title as a doctor.

In 1998 he released controversial footage to 60 Minutes showing him injecting 52-year-old Thomas Youk with a lethal mix of drugs.

Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca responded by charging Kevorkian with First Degree Murder. A jury convicted him of Second Degree Murder and Judge Jessica Cooper sentenced him to 10-25 years in prison.

Kevorkian was released from prison in 2007.

In 2008 Al Pacino won an Emmy for his portrayal of Kevorkian in the HBO movie titled "You Don't Know Jack."

 

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