LANSING, Mich. – Assisted suicide advocate Jack Kevorkian will be paroled in June, state Corrections spokesman Leo Lalonde said Wednesday.
Kevorkian, who claimed to have assisted in at least 130 deaths in the 1990s, was imprisoned in 1999 for his role in the last of the deaths.
The ailing former pathologist has promised he would not assist in a suicide if he was released from prison. He is 78, and has been eligible all along for parole on June 1, 2007.
The state parole board has turned down four of Kevorkian's requests for parole.
Lalonde did not reveal any other details and directed calls to Russ Marlan, another spokesman for the department. A message seeking comment was left with Marlan Wednesday afternoon.
If Kevorkian is released on June 1, he will have spent close to 3,000 days, or a little more than eight years, in prison since being sentenced in April 1999.
Mayer Morganroth, Kevorkian's attorney, said in July that his client had less than a year to live. Gov. Jennifer Granholm ordered corrections authorities to carry out an independent medical evaluation of Kevorkian, but did not commute the retired pathologist's sentence or pardon him, as Morganroth had hoped.
Kevorkian is serving a 10- to 25-year sentence for second-degree murder in the 1998 poisoning of Thomas Youk, 52, of Oakland County's Waterford Township. Youk had Lou Gehrig's disease, and Kevorkian called it a mercy killing. The death was videotaped and shown on CBS' "60 Minutes."
Kevorkian is being held at the Lakeland Correctional Facility in Coldwater, about 100 miles west-southwest of Detroit. Morganroth said in June that Kevorkian's weight had dropped to 113 pounds and that he was suffering from hepatitis C and diabetes.
Kevorkian appeared before the parole board Dec. 7 at the Lakeland facility. The vote to parole him June 1 was unanimous, Morganroth said Wednesday.
As he did in previous hearings, Kevorkian told the parole board he would not assist in any suicides if released, Morganroth said. The Southfield attorney also repeated arguments that Kevorkian's multiple and worsening health problems have left him with less than a year to live.
"I think they believed him — that he would never do it again. I think they understand he is not well, that he should be treated at a proper facility outside prison," Morganroth said.
"I would hope that the governor, now knowing that he's going to be released, will expedite it and release him very quickly," Morganroth said, adding that he expected to contact Granholm on Thursday to seek an even earlier release.
"I'd like to see him have a comfortable existence in the time he has left," Morganroth said, adding that once released, Kevorkian planned to live with friends in the Detroit suburb of Birmingham.
"It's gratifying to me, but it's more important to me that Jack is getting released. I'm just thankful for that," Morganroth said. "The past is the past at this point."
Michigan banned assisted suicide in 1998.