Minnesota Man Found Guilty of Assisted Suicide

Melchert-DinkelWilliam Melchert-Dinkel, a former nurse from Fairbault, MN, has been found guilty on two counts of assisted suicide.

The judge ruled that Melchert-Dinkel “imminently incited” the suicides of two people–Mark Drybrough of Coventry, England, who hanged himself in 2005, and Nadia Kajouji of Ottawa, Ontario, who jumped into a river in 2008. He is charged with two counts of felony assisted suicide.

Melchert-Dinkel went on to internet chat boards, posed as a young woman, and encouraged suicidal people to kill themselves. In several instances he even requested to watch via webcam.

“I wanted to just … be with them in their time of need,” Melchert-Dinkel said. “Just to be an advocate for someone who is all-along depressed, is at the end of their rope, wants to die and is going to do it come hell or high water.”

Terry Watkins, Melchert-Dinkel’s defense attorney, says he and his client intend to appeal the verdict. Watkins still maintains that the defendant’s actions fall under the category of constitutionally protected free speech. The judge rejects this argument, claiming that Melchert-Dinkel’s actions are considered “Lethal Advocacy” and is not protected by the first amendment.

This ruling also clarifies an important point about policing the internet. The guilty verdict makes it clear that internet activity transcends national jurisdictional boarders. Both of Melchert-Dinkel’s victims were from outside of the United States, yet he is being prosecuted in Minnesota.

“The prosecution’s argument still seems like a stretch,” says Criminal Defense Lawyer, Avery Appelman. “The victims were already suicidal. How can they be sure that Dinkel’s words drove them to suicide? Dinkel’s actions were reprehensible, yes. But some immoral, repulsive actions are still constitutionally protected. An appeal is forthcoming. This case is far from over.”

Related Sources:

12-Year-Old Boy Murders Parents, May Be Tried as Adult

Boy Murders ParentsA 12-year-old Colorado boy is currently being held in custody for his alleged connection with the murder of his mother and father.

Police discovered the bodies after the boy called 911 to report gunshots. They arrived to find the bodies of Charles and Marilyn Long, both fatally shot. The boy also allegedly attempted to stab his 5-year-old sister and succeeded in stabbing and shooting his 9-year-old brother. Police immediately took the boy into custody, and suspect him of committing both murders.

The boy’s siblings are on track to make full recoveries.

District Attorney Robert Watson is bringing nine charges against the boy, including two counts of 1st degree murder, among other charges. He is still considering whether or not to try the boy in adult court.

The boy was described as a good, wholesome kid by friends and family. He volunteered at his local church by handing out bulletins and greeting people. There were no known family issues that might’ve prompted the alleged attack.

“This is a tragic and devastating case,” says MN Criminal Defense Lawyer, Avery Appelman. “The accused is a child, and as such he should not be tried as an adult. Juvenile court exists for just this reason. Does this 12-year-old boy have the mental capacity to be tried as an adult? I think not. The judge and jury must make their decisions based on what’s in the best interest of the child, his family, and the community.”

Related Sources:

Wally the Beer Man Found Not Guilty of Selling to Minor

MN Wally the Beer ManLast week, famous Minnesota beer hawker, Wally the Beer Man, was acquitted of selling alcohol to a minor—a charge he received last Fall during a Twins game at Target Field.

The alleged charge occurred on September 30 at Target Field, where Wally (Walter McNeil) sold a Michelob Golden Light to 19-year-old, Anthony Pasquale, who was working with police in a stadium-wide sting. Wally was working the concourse when a group of 10 people came up to him asking for beers. He did not check IDs, but asked if everyone was over 21 years of age. Everyone replied yes, including 19-year-old Pasquale. This is ultimately what won Wally’s case.

A six person jury determined that the young man tricked Wally into selling him the beer. This is known as Entrapment—when a police officer, or someone working with law enforcement entices you to do something that you wouldn’t normally do. Entrapment is usually a difficult criminal defense tactic because it requires the accused to admit that they broke the law.

Wally appealed his case jointly with fellow vendor, Ed Stepnick. Although Wally succeeded in his case, Stepnick was found guilty because he actually examined the driver’s license of the underage girl to whom he sold. Her identification said she was 18-years-old, but Stepnick sold her a beer regardless.

Although he was acquitted, it is not certain that Wally will be back working at Target Field this season. It is up to his former employer, Delaware North, whether or not they wish to hire him back.

“Working in the service industry takes a great deal of courage; you are putting your job on the line every day serving drinks,” says long-time bartender, Natasha Roux. “Not only are you held accountable for ensuring people aren’t served in excess, but when you card people, you have to take them at their word that their ID is legitimate. And this is all on a normal day without the police sending in a sting operation to try and trick you into doing something wrong.”

Related Source:

American Apparel CEO Charged with 5 Counts of Sexual Abuse

American Apparel CEOFive ex-employees at American Apparel have accused the company’s CEO, Don Charney, of sexual harassment.

Four of the accusers—Kimbra Lo, Alyssa Ferguson, Marissa Wilson and Tesa Lubans-Dehaven—filed law suits in Los Angeles earlier this week. Another former employee, Irene Morales, filed a separate suit last week.

Lo alleges that Charney began “sexting” her last July. She tried to ignore the vulgar messages, but couldn’t when Charney offered her a modeling job. During her interview, Charney purportedly forced the model to perform certain sex acts. 20-year-old, Irene Morales, is suing Charney for $250 million in her harassment suit. Morales alleges that Charney kept her as a teen sex slave. Charney’s attorney claims to have evidence to the contrary.

Representatives at American Apparel believe the accusations are false and malicious. They allege that the accusers are trying to shake down the company for money.

“These allegations are preposterous,” says Frank Seddigh, Charney’s defense attorney. Seddigh says they have plenty of evidence to back up this accusation. Earlier this week, Charney met with reporters for the LA Times and showed them explicit photos that Morales e-mailed to him back in 2008. The pictures showcase Morales in sexually suggestive positions. The e-mails contained messages asking Charney for money in exchange for sex acts.

Charney has a history of sexual assault accusations, but none has gone to trial until this point.

“With these ‘cry wolf’ legal battles, there is usually more to the story than the simple allegation,” says Criminal Defense Lawyer, Avery Appelman. “It would seem inconsistent for these women to claim they were sexually assaulted by Charney when, at the time of the sexual harassment/assault, they were sending pornographic pictures of themselves to their alleged harassor. This case will settle. Mr. Charney has a company to run. He has been accused of similar conduct in the past and he cannot allow this situation to be a distraction from his day-to-day operations.”

Related Sources:

Minnesota DWI: Know Your Rights

DWI StopThere are many Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to a Minnesota DWI stop. Outlined below are the best and worst practices for a Minnesota DWI stop. Follow these guidelines if you’re ever pulled over for drinking and driving in Minnesota.

What to Do:

Always keep your driver’s license and proof of insurance with you while driving, and have them out before the officer approaches your vehicle. This will prevent the officer from observing you fumble around in the glove compartment.

Insist on speaking with an attorney before answering any questions, taking any tests, or signing any documents.

You have the right to remain silent. You do not have to answer any of the officer’s questions regarding how much you’ve had to drink or where you’ve been. Provide the officer with the necessary identification information, and then shut up. Calmly tell the officer that you refuse to answer any questions.

Always obey the officer’s reasonable orders. Do not resist or talk back. Be courteous and calm. Cooperate with the arresting and booking processes.

What Not to Do:

Do not speak to anyone regarding the facts of your case before consulting with a criminal defense lawyer.

Do not submit to any Field Sobriety Tests. You are not legally obligated to take them. They only serve as further evidence for the officer to arrest you.

In addition, do not submit to a PBT (Portable Breath Test)—the hand-held breathalyzers that officers carry with them. These often give very inaccurate results, and you are not legally obligated to submit to them. Under the Minnesota Implied Consent Law, you are only required to submit to an approved breath, blood, or urine test—usually located at police stations. Ask the officer if the test is required by the Implied Consent Law. If the answer is no, do not take it.

In general, these are the two best rules of thumb if pulled over for a Minnesota DWI:

1. Keep your mouth shut

2. Insist on speaking with a Minnesota criminal defense attorney

MN Judge Says Intoxilyzer 5000 is Reliable in DWI Cases

This month Scott County Judge, Jerome Abrams, ruled that the controversial Intoxilyzer 5000 breath testing machine is reliable in Minnesota DWI cases.

The Intoxilyzer 5000 has long been the standard breath test machine used by the state for testing driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC). A coalition of Minnesota criminal defense lawyers began a legal battle about five years ago, claiming that inaccuracies in the machine’s source code made its results unreliable and inadmissible in drunk driving cases. Now that the machine has been ruled reliable, 4,000 Minnesota DWI cases that were pending the ruling of the machine’s accuracy will now proceed in court.

Although Abrams did not shy away from criticizing the Intoxilyzer, calling it “severely challenged” and “at the edge of its usefulness,” his final ruling indicated the machine was accurate. In Abrams’s 122-page ruling, he stated the machine’s source code does have errors, but they “do not materially impair accuracy, validity, or reliability of the results.”

While some Minnesota criminal defense attorneys advocated this defense for prospective clients, there were others who thought the litigation war was foolhardy from the start.

“The machine has been in operation for years and has continued to be proven accurate when compared to other BAC tests,” says DWI Lawyer, Avery Appelman. “This litigation is the product of defense lawyers claiming to do the greater good when, in reality, all they achieved was a hollow victory.”

Criminal Defense Attorney Avery Appelman commented, “I refuse to sell my clients rainbows and unicorns. Thousands of people now have to go back to court and pay more fees for something that could’ve been dealt with five years ago if this litigation hadn’t occurred.”

Although the machine has been approved for DWI cases currently on hold, the state had already begun phasing out the machine and replacing it with the more accurate Datamaster DMT breath test machine.

Related Sources:

Coco Crisp Arrested for DUI

DUI Coco CrispOakland Athletics outfielder, Coco Crisp, was arrested for DUI on March 2 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Police officers pulled Crisp over around 2:00 a.m. for weaving in and out of his lane. Crisp showed signs of impairment and failed several field sobriety tests. According to the police report, Crisp blew a BAC level of .13.

Shortly after the arrest, the A’s released this statement: “Coco Crisp was arrested and detained early this morning under the suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. He was released from the City of Scottsdale Jail this morning and arrived at Phoenix Municipal Stadium on time for team pre-game drills.”

Crisp is the fourth MLB player to receive a DUI charge during this year’s spring training. The other three are Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, Cleveland Indians outfielder Austin Kearns, and the recently drafted budding star Delino DeShields.

Crisp later issued an apology regarding the incident. “I can say how I feel about the whole situation and I guess, obviously embarrassed is one of the main feelings. And sorry. … That’s genuine,” Crisp said. “A lot of people look up to me, and the decision was not the right decision.”

Crisp’s apology may have been well intended, but from a criminal defense standpoint it was less than wise.

“The one thing I tell all of my clients to do is to shut up,” says defense attorney Avery Appelman. “I certainly don’t want my clients talking to the police, but talking to the press and admitting guilt to a national audience is even worse. Admitting to making a bad decision is something that could be construed as an admission of guilt, and could be the little piece of evidence a jury hangs on to.”

Related Sources:

Minnesota DWI: Consequences

MN DWIMinnesota has the third most DWIs per capita of any state in the country. All Minnesota drivers need to be aware of the consequences of drunk driving before they get behind the wheel. Consider these consequences before you consider drinking and driving.

Criminal Consequences:

Criminal consequences of a MN DWI charge include: bail and conditions of release from custody, jail time, probation, court-ordered chemical dependency evaluation, and random testing.

Jail time and fines vary based on the degree and circumstances of the DWI charge.

Probation is meant to help the DWI offender reintegrate into society as a law abiding citizen. While on probation, offenders are subject to random drug and alcohol testing. They are also often required to obtain a chemical dependency evaluation and psychological assessment. For MN DWIs, probation periods range from several months, to six years.

Chemical dependency evaluations are used to determine how dependent a person is on chemicals such as drugs or alcohol. These are very commonly required following a DWI charge. If a dependency is found, the DWI offender is usually required to seek treatment in the form of rehabilitation, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and other mandatory classes.

Civil Consequences:

Civil consequences of a MN DWI conviction include: driver’s license revocation, vehicle forfeiture, license plate impoundment, and increased insurance rates.

Driver’s license revocation is problematic for most people who rely on driving themselves to work every day, or driving their kids to school or daycare. Driver’s license revocation periods are determined by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. Learn the specifics of Driver’s License Revocation.

In Minnesota, the state can seize a vehicle used in a MN DWI offense if they allege it was employed in connection with a second or first degree DWI. The forfeiture of the vehicle can happen without a judicial decree, unless the MN drunk driver takes action to prevent it by filing a judicial demand for forfeiture within 30 days of receiving the state’s notice.

A vehicle used in the course of various DWI offenses may have its license plates impounded. Impoundment happens at the time of the arrest if law enforcement revokes an eligible person’s driving privileges because the person failed or refused to give a blood alcohol concentration test.

Insurance rates are severely impacted by having a DWI offense on your record. When you receive a DWI charge, two notations enter your traffic records that are visible to insurance companies. When your insurance provider sees a DWI charge on your record they will either drop your coverage or offer you “risk insurance,” which is coverage with over inflated prices (usually around $2 – $10 thousand over the next 10 years).

Expert Says Charlie Sheen is an Alcohol and Drug Addict

Guest Blog written by Chemical Dependency Expert, Steven J. Weber

As a Minnesota chemical dependency counselor, I have observed many of Charlie Sheen’s recent interviews and find them quite disturbing. I believe he is an alcoholic/addict who is in need of hospitalization for chemical dependency.

Charlie appears to be a well-defended, wounded soul struggling to find clarity in his addictive world. He has verbalized being different and superior to others and having a perfect life as his children are taken away, his career is in jeopardy, and his relationships deteriorate.

Take this video interview, for example, where Charlie makes statements like:

• “I’m a rock star.”
• “I’m different than others.”
• “I’m proud of my drug history.”
• “Dying is for fools.”
• “I’m not bipolar, I’m bi-winning.”

These statements, as well as his overall behavior, are evidence that Charlie has suffered a drug induced psychosis characterized by a derangement of personality and loss of contact with reality. His world has crashed down on him and yet he verbalizes having a perfect life.

Many people have stated that Charlie is bipolar. Applying this diagnosis is difficult when a person is actively using chemicals or has been sober for only a short period of time. A bipolar diagnosis should be made after a person has three to six months of sobriety. Only after this period of sobriety can you differentiate between addictive characteristics and mental health issues.

Charlie shares many common characteristics of an addict, such as:

• Inflated ego
• Denial in the form of minimizing the impact drugs are playing in his life
• Isolation
• Living with people who enable his self-destruction and delusional world

Charlie Sheen needs support in the form of detox to peel away the denial associated with his alcoholism/addiction. However, I fear it will be difficult for Charlie to get clean due to his level of defensiveness and the many resources available to him. This is a sad story of addiction and the deterioration of a talented, gifted human being on a suicide mission.

Steven J. Weber
Steven Weber is a Minnesota chemical dependency counselor and the owner of Accurate Testing, Inc. For 30 years, he has worked with adolescent and adult clients who have suffered greatly from their chemical use. Accurate Testing provides chemical health assessments, cognitive group counseling, educational services, and drug and alcohol testing.

How a DWI Charge Impacts Your Insurance Rates in Minnesota

Guest Blog written by Insurance Expert, Harlan Rossmann

Everyone knows that a DWI charge affects your driving privileges in Minnesota, but what most people don’t anticipate is the impact on their auto insurance costs.

It may take your insurance company 6 – 12 months to check your record and set up your policy to cancel. Enjoy your time until they find out, because on average the rates for auto insurance double after a Minnesota DWI charge compared to preferred carrier rates.

When your car insurance company does become aware of your DWI arrest, they can’t just flat cancel your policy. They have to give you notice of cancellation, which will give you a short time to find another insurance company.

The degree (or level) of DWI makes no difference to the non-standard or high risk companies. DWIs have become so common that some carriers do not charge as much for just one DWI charge. However, a DWI charge that is “reduced” to a careless or reckless driving conviction CAN affect your auto insurance.

Most insurance companies charge significantly higher points for a careless or reckless driving conviction than for a DWI. Therefore, be careful if you have a DWI “reduced” to a careless or reckless conviction, because you might end up paying more for your insurance, and it’s still considered a major violation to a preferred company, and could get you canceled.

These major violations impact your insurance rates for three to five years. Most of the time it’s a five year sentence with preferred companies, but I’ve seen some preferred carriers let you in earlier if your credit history is outstanding.

Even though the average increase in auto insurance doubles after a DWI, I’ve seen rates go up very little in some cases. Your history of credit, tickets, accidents, and insurance can sometimes save you money with a non-standard carrier. There are even a few carriers in non-standard insurance that tailor their rates for DWIs.

Your best chance of getting back into a preferred carrier in less than five years is to:

• Keep your insurance with high limits
• Have multiple policies with the same carrier
• Not receive any other violations or accidents

Five years after a major DWI violation (or perhaps sooner), you will be eligible for the preferred rates again, and you will never want to go back to the high risk rates!

If you received a major driving violation, such as a DWI, within the last five years, contact the Harlan Rossmann Agency for help in reducing your car insurance rates. We can write insurance for the preferred client or the high risk client, so you don’t have to find another agent.

Harlan Rossmann
Harlan has been in the high risk auto insurance industry since 1994. For 16 years, he has helped people find the best insurance for their own situations. Currently, he owns and manages the Harlan Rossmann Agency. He writes insurance for auto, home, life and business. Office phone: (763) 746-2242.