On Campus

Minnesota man convicted in Carleton student's suicide

Judge rebuffs free speech defence

A Minnesota man has been found guilty for his role in encouraging two people to commit suicide, including Carleton University student, Nadia Kajouji. Rice County judge, Thomas Neuville ruled that William Melchert-Dinkel “imminently incited,” through online conversations, Kajouji and Mark Drybrough of Coventry, England, to take their own lives, according to a joint report from the Ottawa Citizen and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Neuville rebuffed arguments from the defence that Melchert-Dinkel’s actions were protected by the First Amendment, because they constituted “lethal advocacy.” Rather than advancing a social philosophy, which would have been protected by American free speech rights,  Melchert-Dinkel “focused his advice and encouragement on two vulnerable and depressed victims in a private setting,” the judge wrote. “He was not merely advocating a political, moral or social philosophy.” Melchert-Dinkel is scheduled to be sentenced May 4. The defence is appealing the case.

Looking for more?

Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.