'Doctor Death' Asks for Mercy

ByABC News
June 30, 2006, 4:09 PM

June 30, 2006 — -- Jack Kevorkian, the euthanasia crusader who claims to have assisted in more than 130 suicides, now says he should have instead concentrated his efforts on working to pass legislation allowing doctors to help terminally ill patients end their lives.

Watch the full report tonight on Nightline.

Kevorkian's proclaimed change of heart comes just as he is asking Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm to commute his second-degree murder conviction and release him after seven years in prison.

Earlier this month, for the fourth consecutive year, the Michigan Parole Board rejected Kevorkian's request for parole on the medical grounds that he suffers from hepatitis and diabetes.

According to his attorney, Mayer Morganroth, the 78-year-old Kevorkian is "a dying man" who has withered away to 113 pounds. Kevorkian was convicted in April 1999 of killing Thomas Youk, a 52-year-old man with Lou Gehrig's disease whose death was videotaped and broadcast on the CBS program "60 Minutes." He was sentenced to 10 to 25 years in prison.

In a series of written exchanges with ABC News, Kevorkian now says he regrets some of his actions involving assisted suicide, saying, "I should have worked toward legalization only."

Not everyone is convinced Kevorkian has truly experienced a change of heart.

Tina Allerellie, whose sister Karen killed herself with Kevorkian's help in 1997, does not believe that Kevorkian has genuinely changed his mind about assisted suicide.

"I believe he has his own agenda. Right now, it's based on 'Oh, I'm sick, please let me out,'" Allerellie says, adding that Kevorkian "killed my sister ... and dropped a bomb on my family."

Her sister, 34-year-old Karen Shofstall, suffered from multiple sclerosis, but Allerellie says she was depressed and hopeless when Kevorkian "preyed" on her.

But the brother of Thomas Youk, the man whose death led to Kevorkian's murder conviction, believes Michigan's governor should free him from prison. Terry Youk says, "I don't believe it was a crime, but at this point his health is so feeble I really don't think that he'll last another year in prison."