California woman charged with helping WWII veteran commit suicide

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 28, 2012 5:18 PM
California woman charged with helping WWII veteran commit suicide

By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A California woman was charged on Wednesday with helping an 86-year-old World War Two veteran kill himself by mixing a lethal dose of Oxycontin into his yogurt, prosecutors said.

Elizabeth Barrett, 66, was charged with one count of assisted suicide, Orange County District Attorney's spokeswoman Farrah Emami said. Barrett was being held in lieu of $25,000 bail pending an arraignment, and faces a maximum prison term of three years if convicted.

Orange County prosecutors accuse Barrett of helping Jack Koency, 86, commit suicide last September by crushing a large dose of the pain reliever Oxycontin into his yogurt and giving it to him to eat.

Koency, a veteran of World War Two who was not terminally ill or bedridden, ate the yogurt, laid down in the bedroom of his home in Laguna Niguel and died, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors said Barrett had met Koency a few years earlier as part of a larger group that occasionally met at a local Starbucks, and that the two had reconnected only about a week before the suicide.

Barrett is accused of driving Koency to make his funeral arrangements on the morning of his death before purchasing yogurt, a bottle of brandy and over-the-counter heartburn medication intended to counter acid reflux from the Oxycontin.

After Koency died, prosecutors said, Barrett removed his World War Two medals from his wall and put them in her car before calling 911 to report his death.

She was allegedly seen on a motion-activated camera crushing the medication, mixing it in the yogurt and taking the medals off the wall, according to investigators.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)