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Laguna Woods Woman Arrested On Suspicion Of Assisting Man, 85, In Suicide

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LAGUNA NIGUEL (CBS)— Orange County sheriff’s deputies arrested a 65-year-old woman for allegedly assisting an 85-year-old Laguna Niguel man in committing suicide.

Sheriff’s spokesman Jim Amormino said Jack Koency died Sept. 30, 2001, but an investigation showed that Elizabeth Barrett, who identified herself as a social worker, helped him die by giving him a cocktail of prescription drugs.

“What she did is the opposite of what we expect decent people to do,” said prosecutor Ebrahim Baytich. “We expect decent people when they see somebody like that to pick up the phone, call 911 and say, ‘Hey, I know this individual. He wants to harm himself, he wants to kill himself.’ She did the exact opposite. She helped him and that’s a crime.”

Authorities said Koency’s death initially appeared to be routine, but investigators noticed a few things that made them curious.

They discovered that Koency had pre-arranged for his ashes to be scattered at sea by the Neptune Society and found an address for an euthanasia association at his home.

Detectives discovered a motion-triggered video camera in Koency’s apartment. They said the images recorded show Barrett crushing some pills and putting them in yogurt for him.

Officials said Barrett can be seen on tape removing Koency’s war medals after his death.

A post-mortem analysis showed Koency died from a combination of Oxycodone, Fluoxetine and Alprazolam, Amormino said. These powerful drugs are used to treat pain, depression and anxiety.

“I mean, no, I never saw a sad part about him,” neighbor Nancy Cunningham said. “It’s tragic, because he really was a very nice man and kind…I just can’t imagine him doing something like this.”

Barrett told police that said she had been with Koency that day but had not given him any medication. When confronted with the video, she admitted to giving him the mixture and helping him commit suicide.

Officials said assisting with a suicide can be punishable with approximately three years in state prison.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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