Philly Nurse Exonerated in Assisted Death of Her Terminally Ill Father

Judge rules state had no evidence in father's death.

February 13, 2014, 9:40 AM

Feb. 13, 2014— -- Barbara Mancini, a 58-year-old Philadelphia nurse who was arrested in February 2013 for giving her 93-year-old terminally ill father a lethal dose of morphine, will not be charged with assisted suicide.

Her exoneration on Feb. 12 came one year to the day after the death of her father, Joseph Yourshaw.

A Schuylkill County judge, Jacqueline Russell, dismissed the case, saying there was not "competent evidence," according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. "A jury may not receive a case where it must rely on conjecture to reach a verdict."

At a news conference after the hearing, Mancini said, "I'm relieved and I'm happy, and that's something I haven't felt for over a year."

"The past year has been an unbearable torment," she said. "I don't know if it was a coincidence or if Judge Russell timed it that way specifically, but it was a nice present on the anniversary of my father's death."

Mancini, from Pottsville, Pa., was charged last year after she gave her father a dose of legally prescribed morphine. A hospice nurse who arrived at the home to care for Yourshaw found him unconscious and reported Mancini. He died four days later in the hospital.

Yourshaw had been in pain and told his daughter repeatedly that he wanted to die and Mancini was his medical decision-maker. He drank the morphine himself, but the state charged her with "recklessly endangering another person" and "aiding suicide," according to the criminal complaint.

As a result of the charges, Mancini had been suspended without pay from her job as an emergency room nurse at Lakenau Medical Center since August 2013.

The advocacy group Compassionate Choices, which had taken up Mancini's case, called it a "grave injustice," and described her as "a loving daughter who helped provide home hospice care for her dying father."

Yourshaw reportedly was taking prescribed morphine for a variety of painful illnesses: end-stage diabetes, heart and cardiovascular disease, stroke, kidney disease and arthritis.

Mancini was charged under a Pennsylvania state law that makes it illegal to assist in suicide.

Public support for assisted dying is gaining ground, according to a Feb. 7 report in The New York Times. It is now legal in Oregon, New Mexico, Vermont, Montana and Washington. Advocates in Connecticut are also strongly supporting "death with dignity" bills.

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