LANSING, Mich. – Assisted suicide advocate Dr. Jack Kevorkian is looking forward to doing a little writing and maybe making some speeches when he leaves prison in June for the first time in more than eight years.
It would be a much quieter existence for the 78-year-old retired pathologist than the one he led before being convicted in 1998 of second-degree murder in the assisted suicide of a Michigan man.
Kevorkian, who waged a defiant campaign for nearly a decade to help other people kill themselves, will be released June 1 — the first day he is eligible for parole, officials announced Wednesday.
By the time he was convicted of murder, he proudly claimed to have assisted in at least 130 deaths.
Now, after sitting in prison for eight years and suffering various health ailments, that defiant tone has changed. Kevorkian vows he will never again commit a crime.
His attorney, Mayer Morganroth, said Kevorkian plans to live with friends in the Detroit suburb of Birmingham and to get by on a small pension and his Social Security payments.
Morganroth said he will ask Gov. Jennifer Granholm on Thursday for an earlier release date for his client, who has already been turned down for early release four times. He said Kevorkian has several health problems, including diabetes, hepatitis C, high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries in his brain, and vertigo, which causes him to lose his balance.
Kevorkian, who is living at the Lakeland Correctional Facility in Coldwater, about 100 miles southwest of Detroit, recently fell and cracked two ribs while being transported to a prison hospital in ankle chains, 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," he said.
Before his conviction, Kevorkian was flagrant in his efforts to assist those who wanted his help to end their lives.
The retired pathologist sometimes left bodies at motels, coroners' offices and hospital emergency rooms. He burned state orders against him, showed up at court in costume and challenged authorities to make his actions legal — or stop him.
"You think I'm going to obey the law? You're crazy," he said in 1998 shortly before he was accused of murder in the poisoning of Thomas Youk, 52, of Oakland County.
Youk's death was videotaped and shown on CBS' "60 Minutes." In 1999, Kevorkian was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 10 to 25 years in prison, the first time he'd been convicted in a death despite repeated efforts by prosecutors to send him to prison.
Michigan banned assisted suicide in 1998.
Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca, whose office won the conviction that sent Kevorkian to prison, said he didn't object to the decision to parole him and expects Kevorkian will live up to his promise to not participate in any more assisted suicides or counsel anyone considering assisted suicide.
After being released in June, Kevorkian will be on probation for two years, during which time he can't leave the state or change his residence without written permission from state officials.