Arizona man accused of assisting in a suicide in New York charged with manslaughter
An 85-year-old former doctor from Arizona was charged with manslaughter for his role in the suicide of a woman in an upstate New York motel room, authorities said.
The woman’s body was found by housekeeping staff at the motel in Kingston, New York, on Nov. 9. Kingston police, fire and emergency workers concluded she had died “by means of assisted suicide,” according to the Ulster County district attorney’s office.
Investigators determined that Stephen Miller had traveled from Arizona and had been with the woman at the time of her death at the motel, about 75 miles (120 kilometers) north of New York City, prosecutors said. Authorities didn’t identify the woman.
Miller, of Tucson, was arraigned Friday on a charge of second-degree manslaughter under a provision that allows the charge for intentionally causing or aiding another person’s suicide. He also faces two counts of assault, according to Kingston police.
Miller, who voluntarily surrendered, pleaded not guilty, posted bail and returned to Arizona, according to his attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman.
“He’s an 85-year-old man who simply wanted to provide comfort and counseling to someone who couldn’t live with the pain in their life anymore,” Lichtman said in a phone interview Tuesday. “For his life to end, dying alone in a jail cell in New York, is, frankly, disgusting.”
Lichtman said the woman had “massive, debilitating pain” and had reached out to Miller because of his work with an advocacy group, Choice and Dignity, where he serves on an advisory board. Consultations with the woman had gone on for months and Miller was careful not to violate any statutes, he said.
“She didn’t want to be alone,” Lichtman said. “He felt empathy for her.”
Miller lost his license to practice medicine upon his conviction for tax fraud in Texas, Lichtman said. Miller was convicted in 2006 and sentenced to just under four years in prison, according to a Department of Justice news release.
Several states allow medical aid in dying, though efforts to legalize it in New York have stalled in the state Legislature.
Choice and Dignity president Jim Schultz said in an email they were saddened to hear of Miller’s arrest.
“We see Steve’s work as a compassionate presence for people who do not wish to die alone as a noble undertaking,” Schultz wrote in an email.
___ EDITOR’S NOTE — This story includes discussion of suicide. If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
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