WILSON, N.C. — A medical examiner in Michigan has ruled the death of Dr. Jack Kevorkian's 41st assisted suicide patient a homicide.
Medical Examiner L.J. Dragovic says 71-year-old Richard Faw died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Faw was a psychiatrist in Wilson.
On Monday, people in Wilson remembered Faw (pictured, left) as an independent man who treated patients in his home office until last week.
Faw was the 41st assisted suicide patient of Kevorkian (pictured, right). Kevorkian delivered Faw's body to the emergency room of a Royal Oak, Mich., hospital.
Dragovic, the medical examiner, said Monday that preliminary autopsy results showed Faw's colon had been removed and that he had cancer in his colon area, lymph nodes, lower belly and bones. But he said other organs were cancer-free and that Faw wasn't terminally ill.
Clara Williams, a neighbor and friend, told WRAL-TV5'sAmanda Lambthat Faw was a very sick man.
Williams said she spent a great deal of time with Faw, and she was not terribly surprised by his decision.
Former neighbor Elton Winstead says he remembers Faw as an early riser who exercised and read voraciously. Winstead says cancer devastated Faw, who was used to an active and independent life. A recent back injury had prevented Faw from moving around without assistance.
Kevorkian's lawyer, Geoffrey Feiger, says Faw, a psychiatrist, suffered from colon cancer, which had spread to his liver, pelvis, lymph nodes and bones, causing ``unbearable suffering.''
Faw's sister, Bernadine, a doctor who lives in the Baltimore area, said she could not talk about her brother other than to say: ``I'm devastated.''
Faw graduated from Bowman-Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem in 1963, according to his 1966 application for a North Carolina medical license. He performed an internship in Roanoke, Virginia, and completed his residency in medicine at Duke University in Durham.
Meanwhile Monday, an attorney for Dr. Jack Kevorkian asked a federal judge to bar authorities from prosecuting the assisted-suicide advocate.
``Does a state have the right to make you suffer? The answer absolutely has to be no,'' Geoffrey Fieger told U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen on Monday.
Fieger told Rosen that physician-assisted suicide was a right as basic as being able to go to the bathroom without government interference.
The hearing was on a lawsuit filed Aug. 14 by Kevorkian. It aims to block Oakland County Prosecutor Richard Thompson from enforcing the state's now-expired ban on assisted suicide for suicides he attended while the ban was in place.
It also seeks to declare unconstitutional a Michigan Supreme Court ruling that said assisted suicide could be prosecuted under common law.