Barbara Mancini Issues First Statement Since Gag Order Expired
(Philadelphia, Pa. – Feb. 12, 2014) Compassion & Choices urged Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane not to appeal the dismissal Tuesday of an unjust felony “assisted suicide” case against Philadelphia nurse Barbara Mancini for the death of her terminally ill, 93-year-old father, Joe Yourshaw.
The [Allentown] Morning Call reported Tuesday night that a Kane spokesman said that it was too soon to say if her office would appeal the ruling by Schuylkill County Judge Jacqueline Russell. By law, the Attorney General’s office has 30 days after Tuesday’s ruling to file an appeal. Russell granted the defense’s motion to dismiss the case because the judge said:
“…the commonwealth’s case appears to have been based on little independent investigation, significant hearsay, including double hearsay received from third persons – speculation, guess and defendant’s alleged incriminating statements.”
“We urge Attorney General Kane not to extend this yearlong travesty of justice by appealing this ruling,” Compassion & Choices Communications & Marketing Director Gwen Fitzgerald said during a 2:30pm news conference at the Mancini’s home. “The Mancinis have been tormented enough with this unjust and unsubstantiated charge. It is time for the Attorney General’s office to concentrate on prosecuting real criminals, not loving family caregivers like Barbara Mancini.”
Compassion & Choices and Pain Treatment Topics filed an amicus brief in support of the defense’s motion to dismiss the “assisted suicide” charge, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
“My family and I extend a heartfelt thank you to all of the people who have given us words of encouragement and emotional support,” said Barbara Mancini, who had been unable to speak about the case until now because of a gag order. “Compassion and Choices worked tirelessly to shine the public spotlight on this case. We are grateful to the journalists who have exposed the injustice of my prosecution and the violation of my father’s end-of-life directives.”
Compassion & Choices also presented to the Mancini family a giant check for $20,000 that it raised through its Compassion & Choices Legal Defense Fund to offset the Mancini family’s legal fees in excess of $100,000. Barbara Mancini has been on unpaid administrative leave from her nursing job. Her husband, Joe Mancini, has had to work extra shifts as a paramedic to make up for the lost family income.
Police claimed Barbara, whom Joe had designated his medical power of attorney to ensure his wishes would be honored, handed him a partially filled bottle of prescribed morphine at his request on Feb. 7, 2013. Joe drank it to ease his severe pain from end-stage diabetes, heart disease and kidney failure. A hospice nurse arrived at Joe’s home after he drank the morphine and found him unresponsive. Despite his clear instructions to hospice caregivers and a do-not-resuscitate order, a hospice employee called 911. EMTs responded and transported Joe to the hospital, where he was revived. Joe was angry to learn that police had charged Barbara with assisted suicide. Joe died four days later, ironically after the hospital gave him more morphine to ease his pain.
Compassion & Choices provided pro bono legal advice and publicized the case nationally, generating 21 national and state columns and editorials criticizing Attorney General Kane for pursuing this unjust case. More than 7,500 people called, signed an online letter or MoveOn.org Partner Petition sponsored by Compassion & Choices urging Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane to drop the unjust prosecution of Barbara Mancini.