New trial ordered for Minnesota man who aided Ottawa student’s suicide

Published: March 20, 2014
voyeur suicide abettment

Nadia Kajouji was 18 when she was coaxed by an American man, William Melchert-Dinkel, to commit suicide. Kajouji drowned in the Rideau River in March 2008.

BLAIR CRAWFORD
POSTMEDIA NEWS

OTTAWA — The brother of Nadia Kajouji says he’s disappointed the man who helped convince the first-year Carleton University student to kill herself in 2008 has had his conviction overturned.

The Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday threw out the conviction of William Melchert-Dinkel, 51, for encouraging Kajouji and a second victim in Britain to commit suicide. In a series of online chats, Melchert-Dinkel, a former nurse from Faribault, Minn., pretended to be a young and compassionate female emergency room nurse who would help them end their suffering. In fact, Melchert-Dinkel was a voyeur who tried to convince his victims to let him watch on a webcam as they hanged themselves, for the “thrill of the chase.”

The court overturned Melchert-Dinkel’s 2011 conviction, saying the state law prohibiting “encouraging” suicide was unconstitutional, but ruling he could still be tried for “assisting” in the suicides.

The case now heads back to a lower court for a new trial.

“I’m disappointed in the court, but I’m pleased that Minnesota has been pursuing it, because we didn’t at home, did we?” Marc Kajouji said.

“I think the law has been put there to protect life, by any means necessary. I think it’s semantics at this point where you have to determine the intentions of somebody.”

Nadia Kajouji, 18, had several online chats with Melchert-Dinkel in early March 2008, asking for advice on how to make her suicide look like an accident. On March 9, she told him she planned to jump off a bridge. Melchert-Dinkel tried to convince her to hang herself. Kajouji disappeared that night. Her body was found in the Rideau River three weeks later.

The British victim, 32-year-old Mark Drybrough, hanged himself in July 2005 after Melchert-Dinkel, who feigned being suicidal himself, advised him online about ways to do it. In his online chats, Drybrough wrote: “I keep holding on to the hope that things might change” and said he was too scared to kill himself. Duped by the fake suicide pact, Drybrough wrote Melchert-Dinkel: “I admire your courage. I wish I had it.” Drybrough killed himself four days later.

Melchert-Dinkel told police he had had similar online conversations with about 20 other people and entered into fake suicide pacts with 10 of them, five of whom he believed eventually killed themselves.

In his appeal, Melchert-Dinkel’s lawyer, Terry Watkins, argued his client was only offering support to the victims and that the conversations were protected by U.S. free speech laws. The free speech argument was rejected in an appeal court ruling in 2012.

Since Nadia’s death, Marc Kajouji has become an ambassador for yourlifecounts.org, a charitable organization that provides online resources for suicide prevention. The organization has lobbied Parliament for a national suicide prevention strategy and advocates on behalf of suicide survivors.

The irony of Nadia finding someone online who helped persuade her to take her life isn’t lost on him.

“If she stumbled on yourlifecounts.com, she would be here today,” he said. “I believe that.”

As with the first trial, the Kajouji family won’t attend Melchert-Dinkel’s retrial, he said.

“Speaking to him isn’t going to save anybody, but speaking to members of Parliament and working with yourlifecounts.com will. My sister’s gone, but maybe there will be other stories that we can avoid in the future.

“That’s the most important thing to do, steadying people so that they won’t take their lives.”

bcrawford@ottawacitizen.com


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,





Featured

Const. Ian MacDonald says: ‘You don’t want to see anybody carted away in an ambulance over this, and that is a very real possibility. Ric Ernst/PNG

‘It’s pride getting in the way’: Feuding Indo-Canadian youth factions worry Abbotsford cops (w/ video)

JENNIFER SALTMAN  VANCOUVER DESI  No one really knows how the conflict started. According to a number of people who are involved, in February one person…
Continue Reading »

Stone-health-Kaleem

Eight-year-old Indian boy’s swollen hands are larger than his head

VANCOUVER DESI Kaleem, an eight-year-old Indian boy suffering from a mystery condition has puzzled doctors after his hands swelled to giant proportions and are larger…
Continue Reading »

Illegitimate sex

Two sisters from India headed to the gallows for killing nine children may not be executed for some time

VANCOUVER DESI Two sisters from western India headed to the gallows this week would have become first women to be hanged in the country, but…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

BC Sikhs

Commercial vehicle safety blitz in Toronto targeted minorities: lawyer

ETHAN LOU THE CANADIAN PRESS TORONTO — A commercial vehicle safety blitz that led to the arrest of 21 people for immigration offences targeted minorities…
Continue Reading »

Const. Ian MacDonald says: ‘You don’t want to see anybody carted away in an ambulance over this, and that is a very real possibility. Ric Ernst/PNG

‘It’s pride getting in the way’: Feuding Indo-Canadian youth factions worry Abbotsford cops (w/ video)

JENNIFER SALTMAN  VANCOUVER DESI  No one really knows how the conflict started. According to a number of people who are involved, in February one person…
Continue Reading »

grizzly bear

Littlefoot, the orphaned grizzly saved from starvation by B.C. pilot project

THE CANADIAN PRESS VANCOUVER — An orphaned, yearling grizzly dubbed Littlefoot is once again wandering free in the wilds of southeastern British Columbia, saved by…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

Annu Gaidhu

Mississauga beauty Annu Gaidhu crowned Miss India Canada (w/gallery)

VANCOUVER DESI Mississauga’s Annu Gaidhu was crowned Miss India-Canada at the 24th annual pageant in Toronto Saturday evening. The 23-year-old yoga instructor and aspiring child…
Continue Reading »

Best and worst places to live

Vancouver named among the best places to live, Karachi among the worst: The Economist (w/gallery)

LINDA NGUYEN THE CANADIAN PRESS TORONTO — Three Canadian cities — Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary — have been named as some of the best places…
Continue Reading »

Long fares bribe BC

Vancouver taxi driver calls for end to queue-jumping bribe scheme

Network of drivers pays hotel staff to secure long-haul YVR fares JEFF LEE POSTMEDIA NEWS A small clique of drivers at Vancouver Taxi is being…
Continue Reading »

Video footage from a surveillance camera allegedly shows a pickup truck striking Singh. Submitted photo/The Sikh Coalition.

New York police arrest man who injured Sikh father in alleged hate crime

VANCOUVER DESI New York City police arrested a man on Tuesday who allegedly drove his truck over a Sikh father last month, according to the…
Continue Reading »

Jewellery

Treasure hunter finds 50 pieces of jewellery on Mont Blanc from 1966 Air India crash (w/video)

VANCOUVER DESI A French treasure hunter has found 50 pieces of jewellery, including bracelets and necklaces on Mont Blanc belonging to passengers of an Air…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Bollywood

Aamir Khan dropped pants for ‘PK’, wonders would Salman Khan follow suit?

IANS Mumbai – It seems Aamir Khan is in the mood to rag his friend and colleague Salman Khan! The former dropped his pants for…
Continue Reading »

Ajay Devgn

‘Singham Returns’ hits jackpot on box office

IANS New Delhi – The combo of Rohit Shetty and Ajay Devgn has once again hit the jackpot – their latest offering “Singham Returns” has…
Continue Reading »

Indian singer Honey Singh

Yo Yo Honey Singh injured on reality show ‘India’s Raw Star’ set

IANS Mumbai – Popular rapper Yo Yo Honey Singh, who will soon be seen in a new singing reality TV show “India’s Raw Star”, fell…
Continue Reading »