September 29, 2012

Death by forgery

Lawyer accused of murdering father after 'forging his signature on document asking to be removed from life support' .

Her father Attorney William Van Note, 67, and his girlfriend Sharon Dickson were shot during a home invasion in 2010.  Van Note was the sole survivor until his daughter Susan provided a signature claiming his request to have his medical care terminated

Susan Elizabeth Van Note, 44, is accused of forging her father's signature leading to first degree murder.  The slain accountant leaves behind a $1.6million estate.
And soon, after 20 years together, he and longtime companion Sharon Dickson were going to wed, hoping that the union would be a new start after previous failed marriages.  They never got the chance. In October 2010, an intruder shot the couple in their lake home, killing Dickson and leaving Van Note critically wounded with a gunshot wound to the head. He died four days later, after his daughter told doctors that he would prefer to die rather than be kept alive by medical intervention.

What happened next set the stage for a unique legal case: Van Note's daughter, Susan, was accused by prosecutors of pulling the trigger and forging her father's signature on the document doctors relied on to end his medical treatment.

The case, which essentially accuses her of 'death by forgery,' has captivated the small Missouri community since her September arrest. Legal experts say it's a case with little, if any, precedent.

'He died as a result of them removing life support, not as a result of the gunshot,' Camden County prosecutor Brian Keedy said. 'If you commit a felony, and somebody dies as a result, there is a criminal responsibility for that death.'

Susan Elizabeth Van Note, who goes by Liz, is a 44-year-old attorney who specializes in end-of-life issues, and advertised herself for offering 'compassionate representation of clients.'
The document she's accused of forging is known as a durable power of attorney. People can use a power of attorney to dictate whom they want making medical decisions for them in emergencies or if they are near death and unable to speak for themselves.

Dickson was slated to inherit Van Note's cash and several homes. But her death would have likely meant that Van Note's daughter would get most of the estate's proceeds, which were likely worth millions of dollars more than the partial estimate on file.

Toates, the tenant who knew Van Note, said that his daughter's arrest didn't come as a surprise to many in Liberty.

'It happened on a Saturday, and she unplugged him on Wednesday,' Toates said. 'A lot of people did not understand that.'

I expect we'll see a lot more cases like this, especially in states like Oregon where any form of euthanasia such as physician-assisted suicide  is legal.
Mercy killing isn't mercy at all.  Patients are euthanized for convenience, to save money, or to get money.

In Holland, last year 13 psychiatric patients were euthanized and the number of people in the early stages of dementia who were euthanized were double that of 2010. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at September 29, 2012 10:36 PM | Permalink