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November 13, 1996 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-11-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

LOCAL/STATE
*Schmitz convicted of
lesser murder charge

The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, November 13, 1996 - 5

Senate rejects vote
on assisted suicide

PONTIAC (AP) - In a -case that
focused on "ambush television," a
"Jenny Jones Show" guest was convict-
ed yesterday of murder without pre-
meditation for shooting a gay man who
revealed a crush on him during a taping.
But jurors spared Jonathan Schmitz
from life behind bars without parole by
convicting him of a lesser second-
degree murder charge, rather than the
first-degree murder conviction sought
by prosecutors.
Juror Joseph Wurm said delibera-
tions concentrated almost entirely on
Schmitz's state of mind the morning he
hot Scott Amedure. Schmitz shot his
gay admirer three days after Amedure
revealed a crush on him during a March
9, 1995 taping of the talk show. The
show never aired, but was shown in
court.
"It was clear from the prosecution's
case there was a dead man and Jonathan
did the shooting, so what was the indi-
vidual's state of mind?" Wurm said.
Jurors said a majority had favored a
*irst-degree murder conviction after
their first day of deliberations Friday,
but the three-day break gave them more
time to think about it.
The case had focused on "ambush"
television, and Schmitz's lawyers
argued that the show misled him into
believing he was going to meet the
woman of his dreams. They said he was
publicly ambushed and humiliated
when his secret admirer turned out to be
man.
That, coupled with his history of
depression, a thyroid ailment and other
problems, left him mentally incapable
of forming the intent to. commit first-
degree murder, his lawyers said.
But Wurm said jurors were swayed
most by emotional testimony from
Schmitz's father about his son's fragile
mental condition.
"That's what this trial is all about"
*Wurm said.

As for the show's role, Juror Dale
Carlington said, "We all felt he had a
definite mental problem, ... and the
show exacerbated that." And juror
Joyce O'Brien said the show "threw
him (Schmitz) back into an emotional
tailspin."
"Even a sane person might have trou-
ble dealing with all that stuff," she said.
Schmitz's parents testified that their
son behaved oddly as early as 3 years
old, when he would bang his head
against the wall in anger. They said by
the time he was 16, he was battling
weeks-long periods of depression. He
later attempted suicide several times.
The Oakland County Circuit Court
jury of seven men and five women
deliberated all day Friday and about 2
1/2 hours yesterday before reaching its
decision.
Amedure's brother, Frank Amedure
Jr., said defense lawyers threw confu-
sion into what he thought was a clear
case of murder and said he felt "utter
disappointment" at the conviction on a
lesser charge. But "I suppose it could
have been a lot worse," he said.
Second-degree murder carries a sen-
tence of up to life in prison. Sentencing
was set for Dec. 4.
Defense attorney James Burdick pre-
dicted that Judge Francis O'Brien
would be lenient in sentencing, which
could begin at eight years with parole
possible after about 15 years in prison.
"I hold out great hope that this
judge...understands that Jon was really
incapable of forming the general intent
to commit second-degree murder or
even manslaughter," Burdick said. He
said he would appeal the second-degree
murder conviction.
Prosecutor Roman Kalytiak said he
would seek the highest sentence possi-
ble, 25 years to life.
"I think we had a more compelling
case with the facts. The defense had a
more compelling case with making

LANSING (AP) - Even as Jack
Kevorkian and a friend faced legal
problems in lonia County, the
Michigan Senate yesterday shouted
down a proposal to let voters decide
whether to legalize assisted suicide.
"This is not a finger-in-the-wind
kind of issue," nor can it be regulat-
ed, said Sen. William Van
Regenmorter (R-Hudsonville). "It's
an issue of morality. It is time to
stand up and be counted."
The Senate, by voice vote, rejected
a proposal to let the voters decide
whether to legalize assisted suicide
in Michigan.
The action came as the founder of

Michigan's
Hemlock soci-
ety chapter, a
73-year-old
woman who is
dying of can-
cer, was
charged with
the same Ionia
County assist-
ed suicide
counts facing
her friend Jack

We nee
this issue
the voters

"It's an issue we need to deal
with," said Sen. Gary Peters (D-
Pontiac), sponsor of the assisted-sui-
cide language. "We need to put this
issue before the voters ... Let them
decide by going to the polls."
Minority Floor Leader Virgil
Smith (D-Detroit) accused the bill's
backers of trying use the measure to
put a prohibition against assisted
suicide into state law.
Now, assisted suicide is only
banned under "common law" guide-
lines, as cited by the state Supreme
Court.
"I think voters should be allowed
to make a decision," he said.
But Peters'
proposal was
id to Put immediately
rejected by the
before Republican-
controlled
1. Senate.
G Peters "People want
- Garyto die with dig-
U.S. senator nity," said Sen.
Dale Shugars
(R-Portage). "In
assisted suicide, you actively induce
something that will kill a person."
In other action, the Senate:
Passed, 37-0 and 33-2, and sent
to the House two bills designed to
crack down on the theft of cable tele-
vision signals through the use of ille-
gal "black boxes" and other intercep-
tion equipment.
Passed, on votes of 28-8, 27-10
and 28-9, and sent to the House sev-
eral bills offering tax credits and
exemptions for the purchase of alter-
native-fueled vehicles. Some law-
makers objected to the cut in state
revenues and the fact the
Appropriations Committee had not
reviewed the bills, but they still won
passage.

-

Kevorkian.

AP PHOTO
Jonathan Schmitz, left, stands with his attorneys, James Burdick, front, and Fred
Gibson as the jury enters the courtroom in Pontiac yesterday.

jurors feel sorry for Jonathan Schmitz,"
Kalytiak said.
Allyn and Connie Schmitz were dev-
astated by the verdict, Burdick said. The
couple declined comment.
Prosecutors contended that Schmitz,
26, of Lake Orion, planned and carried
out the slaying of Amedure, 32, of
Orion Township.
Show producers denied misleading
Schmitz. Jones testified that she knows
very little about how her show operates
and does her host duties by following

scripts she usually receives the night
before a taping.
Amedure's brother said his family
would press ahead with its $25 million
civil lawsuit against the "Jenny Jones
Show."
"None of this would have happened
if it wasn't for the Jenny Jones Show's
exploitation of homosexuality, a sensi-
tive issue, and then exploiting those
persons that had difficulty with the tol-
erance of homosexuality, such as
Jonathan Schmitz" he said.

Janet Good, of Farmington Hills,
was indicted by the same grand jury
that indicted Kevorkian last week.
The case stems from the Aug. 30
death of Loretta Peabody, who suf-
fered from multiple sclerosis.
The Senate vote came as the
chamber discussed a proposed "dig-
nified death act" law to require doc-
tors to inform terminally ill patients
of alternative treatments, their right
to a patient advocate and their right
to make informed decisions on their
treatment.
The bill was advanced into posi-
tion for a final vote. The assisted sui-
cide issue can be raised again before
final action.

NEAL
Continued from Page :.
partnership between two great universi-
ties," Denbow said. "What we have in
common is so much more important
than what we don't."
Truscott said the two institutions
omplement each other. "We can learn
prom each other," he said.
At the University, reactions to MSU's
selection were similar. Walter Harrison,
vice president for University relations,
said the choice says positive things
about the two institutions' relationship.
"It's clearly a gesture from Michigan
State that they value the presidency of
the University of Michigan," Harrison
said. "I'm sure it's also because Homer
s not only the interim president, but a
world-renowned scholar.
"It's a terrific honor for (Neal) and a
wonderful gesture toward the
University of Michigan," he said.
Neal said he did not know what he

will speak about.
"I'll be giving some thought on that
in the coming days,' Neal said.
Denbow said that whatever Neal
decides to include in his speech will be
appropriate for the audience - which
will be made up of graduate students
receiving advanced degrees.
Truscott said Neal will have a lot to
bring to the ceremony.
"I think it speaks volumes for his
career," Truscott said. "His experience
and the wisdom that he'll have will
mean a lot to the students at MSU."
The MSU commencement speakers
were chosen by advisory groups, but
McPherson makes the final decision.
"(McPherson) made it with enthusi-
asm," Denbow said.
Neal is scheduled to address MSU
students on Friday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m.
in the Jack Breslin Student Events
Center in East Lansing.
- Daily Staff Reporter Jodi S. Cohen
contributed to this report.

The Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives
is now accepting applications for
Student Program Host
positions for the King/Chivez/Parks
College Day Spring Visitation Program
pi ::icatin c\ :*'. i N . Ve1Nn ::
Student Program Hosts assist in the supervision of
student leaders who accompany visiting middle
school students on a one-day visit to campus.
In addition, they coordinate work schedules.
Program Hosts must be team players and have a
keen interest in working with younger students.
Applications and job descriptions can be obtained at
The Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives
1042 Fleming Building, first floor.
For additional information contact
Onis Cheathams at 936-1055
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