Arizona Mercy Killing, Euthanasia, and Assisted Suicide Laws
Although some countries and some states have legalized assisted suicide, there is not a single government in the world that permits mercy killings. In other words, if somebody wants to help someone kill themselves, some states will lower the criminal penalties for the person who assisted in the suicide. This is most famously known, of course, through the works of the “death Doctor”, Jack Kevorkian. In those circumstances, Dr. Kevorkian would create a device that allowed people to kill themselves who were too weak to kill themselves without assistance.
That was considered assisted suicide. Mercy killings, however, are different from assisted suicide. Mercy killings, or euthanasia, is when somebody decides to kill somebody else on their own and the person who dies does not participate in the death. For example, euthanasia would be when somebody walks into an ICU in a hospital and kill patients in too much pain.
In Arizona, assisted suicide is not considered murder. Assisting suicide is not second-degree murder in Arizona, but instead is manslaughter.
13-1103. Manslaughter; classification
A. A person commits manslaughter by:
1. Recklessly causing the death of another person; or
2. Committing second degree murder as defined in section 13-1104, subsection A upon a sudden quarrel or heat of passion resulting from adequate provocation by the victim; or
3. Intentionally aiding another to commit suicide
That means the penalty for assisted suicide would not be a class one felony. In contrast to assisted suicide, if somebody commits a mercy killing or euthanasia, that is considered second-degree murder. In other words, killing somebody, even without harmful or malicious intent, is second-degree murder.
The reason I have made this distinction is because of a very sad case out of Sun City “MCSO: 85-year-old Sun City man, George Sanders, says he shot his wife 'to end her pain':
An 81-year old Sun City woman died in the hospital after she was shot by her husband according to Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies.
Virginia Sanders was found with a gunshot wound to the head at the couple's home on Friday.
According to court documents, MCSO investigators went to the home after 85-year-old George Sanders called the sheriff's office and told them he shot his wife because she was in pain.
Sanders, according to detectives, said Virginia asked him to shoot her.
The defense attorney who represents Mr. Sanders will have to do his best to prove this case was assisted suicide, and therefore manslaughter, and not a mercy killing, which is second degree murder. The penalty for manslaughter is 7 to 21 years in prison, while second degree murder could be life in prison.