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Minn. court ruling expected in aiding suicide case

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AMY FORLITI | March 19, 2014 02:02 AM EST | AP


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A former nurse who prosecutors say encouraged people to kill themselves in online chat rooms could soon learn whether Minnesota's highest court accepts his argument of free speech.

The Minnesota Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling Wednesday in the case of William Melchert-Dinkel, who was convicted in 2011 of aiding the suicides of two people.

The 51-year-old is challenging the state law used to convict him that states anyone who "intentionally advises, encourages, or assists another in taking the other's own life" is guilty of a crime. His attorney says the law is too broad.

Prosecutors say Melchert-Dinkel's speech wasn't protected and that he played an integral role in the deaths, including giving step-by-step instructions.

If the court tackles the law itself, the decision could have broad implications.