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Kevorkian opens clinic, attends woman's death

Dr. Jack Kevorkian has started a clinic and was present there Monday for the death of a woman with Lou Gehrig's disease. It was the 24th death he has attended.

Erika Garcellano, 60, died at the clinic Kevorkian established "for the purpose of alleviating the suffering of patients," his attorney, Geoffrey Fieger, said.

Garcellano had suffered for at least three years from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, a degenerative nerve disorder, he said. She had been living at a nursing home in Kansas City, Mo.

Fieger would not say how Garcellano died. Her friend, Marjorie Jackson, and her two sons, John and Paul, also were present when she died, he said.

The clinic, in Oakland County north of Detroit, was named the Margo Janus Mercy Clinic after Kevorkian's sister.

Janus, who crusaded with her brother for the right to assisted suicide, died last summer of a heart attack.

Fieger said the main purpose of the clinic is to provide a place for residents of other states to die.

Kevorkian, a retired pathologist, also hopes the clinic can be used as a hospice, Fieger said.

A sheriff's officer said Kevorkian began leasing the building this month, on a month-by-month basis.

Kevorkian has now attended 24 deaths since June 1990. Many of the deaths have been in the homes of those who died and the majority have been in Oakland County.

He most recently attended the deaths of the Rev. John Evans and Nicholas John Loving in May. No charges have been brought in those deaths.

But Kevorkian could be charged with murder in two earlier deaths and assisted suicide in three, under a recent court decision.

The state Supreme Court ruled in December that there is no constitutional right to assisted suicide. The court also found that assisting a suicide is illegal under common law.

Kevorkian had appealed that ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, saying the Constitution gives people the right to "end intolerable pain, suffering or debilitation."

The high court in April refused to hear the appeal.