Judge drops assisted-suicide charge filed against Roxborough nurse

Schyulkill County Judge Jacqueline Russell has dismissed an assisted-suicide charge filed against Roxborough nurse Barbara Mancini related to the death of her father

Mancini and her husband, Joe Mancini, met with members of the press in the living room of their Roxborough home on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the case publicly for the first time.

“I am glad it is over for us and for her and she can start healing a little bit,” said Joe Mancini.

Barbara Mancini faced up to 10 years in prison for giving 93-year-old Joseph Yourshaw morphine by his request when he was in hospice care. A hospice nurse called 911 to report her for assisted suicide — a felony in Pennsylvania. 

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According to her attorneys, her intention was to relieve his pain, not to help him commit suicide. 

He died four days later, and she was arrested.

Bittersweet anniversary

On Tuesday — the one-year anniversary of her father’s death — Mancini found out that the charges had been dismissed by Russell, who said the case put forward by the state against Mancini relied on “speculation” and “little independent investigation.”

“I am relieved and happy, and that is something I haven’t felt in over a year,” Mancini said. “The past year has been an unbearable torment.”

Mancini said she hopes to reapply for her job as an emergency room nurse at Lankenau Medical Center, from where she was placed on unpaid leave and eventually dismissed. 

Scenes from Roxborough event

Compassion & Choices, a nonprofit group that advocates for end-of-life choices throughout the country, established a legal defense fund on behalf of the Mancini family, whose legal bills total more than $100,000.

The organization presented the Mancinis with a $20,000 check on Wednesday to help offset those costs. 

Mancini said she plans to advocate for end-of-life choices and help families in similar situations. She said she has received “stacks” of letters and emails from people sharing their stories. 

State appeal?

Attorney General Kathleen Kane has yet to decide whether she will appeal the decision and is reviewing the motion, according to a spokesperson from her office.

Kane has 30 days to appeal the decision. Compassion & Choices and the Mancini family, meanwhile, are urging Kane to let it go. 

“Let my father-in-law rest in peace,” said Joe Mancini. “Give peace to my mother-in-law so she can grieve the death of her husband of 61 years.”

“Government officials and the attorney general of this state should back off and back out of families’ medical decisions,” added Gwen Fitzgerald, the nonprofit’s spokesperson. “You are not needed.”

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