Only 11 U.S. physicians have been charged with killing a terminally ill patient or family member. None has ever been convicted and imprisoned.
1935 Harold Blazer of Montevista, Colo., was accused of murdering his 30-year-old-daughter, Hazel, a victim of cerebral spinal meningitis. The doctor, his wife and another daughter had cared for Hazel her entire life. One day Blazer placed a handkerchief soaked in chloroform over Hazel's nose and mouth and kept it there until she died. He was acquitted at his trial.
1950 Hermann N. Sander of Manchester, N.H., was charged with murdering Abbie C. Borroto, a terminally ill patient. At the request of Borroto's husband, Sander injected Borroto with 40 cc of air. She died within 10 minutes. When he logged the fatal injection into hospital records, Sander was reported to authorities. After a three- week trial, the jury returned a verdict of innocent.
1972 Vincent Montemarano, the chief surgical resident at Nassau County (N.Y.) Medical Center, was indicted for murdering Eugene Bauer, 59. Bauer, suffering from terminal throat cancer, died five minutes after Montemarano gave him a shot of potassium chloride. At the trial, the defense argued that the state had not proved Bauer was alive before receiving the injection. The jury returned a not-guilty verdict.
1982 Robert J. Nejdl and Neil L. Barber of Los Angeles County, Calif., were charged with murder for removing life-support equipment in 1981 from Clarence Herbert, 55. Herbert had suffered a heart attack after surgery and remained in a coma for three days before his condition was declared hopeless. Nejdl and Barber disconnected Herbert's life supports at his family's request. He died six days later. In 1983, an appeals court dismissed the charges against the doctors.
1985 John Kraai of Fairport, N.Y., was charged with murdering his friend and patient, Frederick Wagner, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease. On the day Wagner died, Kraai gave him three shots of insulin. Three weeks after his arrest, the doctor killed himself by lethal injection.
1986 Joseph Hassman of Berlin, N.J., was charged with murdering his mother-in-law, Esther Davis, a victim of Alzheimer's. At the family's request, Hassman gave Davis a lethal injection of Demerol. He was found guilty at his trial and was sentenced to two years' probation, fined $10,000 and ordered to perform 400 hours of community service.
1987 Peter Rosier of Fort Myers, Fla., was acquitted of murder charges in the death of his wife, Patricia, who was a terminal cancer patient. Mrs. Rosier tried to take her life with an overdose of Seconal, but when the powerful sedative failed to take hold her husband injected her with morphine. That didn't work either. Acting without Peter Rosier's knowledge, Patricia's stepfather, Vincent Delman, ended her life by smothering her. Delman's role came to light only after he was granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony in Peter Rosier's trial.
1989 Donald Caraccio of Troy, Mich., was charged with murdering a female hospital patient who was terminally ill and comatose. Caraccio gave the patient a shot of potassium chloride in the presence of other medical staff. Accepting Caraccio's guilty plea at the subsequent trial, the judge sentenced him to five years' probation combined with community service.
1990 Richard Schaeffer of Redondo Beach, Calif., was arrested on suspicion of having caused the death of a patient who was suffering from the effects of a stroke and other ailments. The dead man's wife was also arrested. Both were released pending further investigation. One year later, charges against the two suspects were dismissed.
1992 Kevorkian became the first American physician to face more than one murder charge in connection with assisted suicide. A grand jury in Oakland County, Mich., indicted him Feb. 3 on two murder counts in the 1991 deaths of Sherry Miller and Marjorie Wantz. A Michigan judge is scheduled to rule Feb. 28 on whether there is enough evidence to warrant a trial in Oakland County Circuit Court. Source: The Hemlock Society.