Tuesday, October 21, 2014

New York man hired to assist suicide sentenced to 12 years

By Laila Kearney 

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York man convicted of helping a debt-ridden motivational speaker commit suicide to make the death look like a robbery was sentenced to 12 years in prison on Monday, prosecutors said.

Kenneth Minor, 42, pleaded guilty to manslaughter last month in the stabbing death of Jeffrey Locker in 2009, a spokeswoman with the Manhattan District Attorney's office said.

Locker, a 52-year-old motivational speaker, hired Minor to help him kill himself and make it look like a robbery so his family could collect life insurance payouts, prosecutors said.

Locker, who lived in suburban Long Island, New York, was deeply in debt and had taken out millions of dollars in insurance policies, they said.

Minor claimed he held a knife steady against a steering wheel in a car parked in Harlem while Locker repeatedly thrust himself onto the blade.

Minor was first convicted in 2011 of second-degree murder and sentenced to 20 years to life, but a state appeals court order a retrial on grounds that the original judge improperly limited his use of an assisted suicide defense.

Defense attorney Daniel Gotlin said his client took the plea deal in state Supreme Court in Manhattan but he planned to appeal the new conviction.

Under New York law, assisted suicide is illegal and is considered manslaughter but can be used as a defense against stiffer murder charges.

"It's a ridiculous theory that you could have both cases tried together," Gotlin said.

Minor has already served five years of his prison sentence, Gotlin said.

The district attorney's office declined to comment.