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Laguna Woods woman gets probation for assisting in suicide

She had faced three years in prison, but prosecutors said they weighed the victim's wishes and the defendant's lack of a criminal history in making their sentencing recommendation.

January 19, 2013|By Nicole Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times

A Laguna Woods woman who helped a World War II veteran commit suicide with a mixture of OxyContin, yogurt and heartburn medication has been sentenced to probation, with no jail time.

Elizabeth Barrett, 66, had pleaded guilty to one felony count of assisted suicide in the death of Jack Koency, an 86-year-old Laguna Niguel resident, according to the Orange County district attorney's office.

Barrett had faced three years in state prison, but county prosecutors said they weighed the victim's wishes and the defendant's lack of a criminal history in making their sentencing recommendation.

Koency had a history of mental health issues and had undergone therapy, said Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Ebrahim Baytieh.

"He talked to a lot of people before about wanting to kill himself," Baytieh said.

Koency and Barrett were friends through a social group that occasionally met for coffee at a Starbucks, officials said.

Prosecutors said that on the morning of Sept. 30, 2011, Barrett drove Koency to the Neptune Society so he could plan cremation services and make funeral arrangements.

That day, the woman purchased yogurt, a bottle of brandy and heartburn medication. She then drove Koency back to his apartment, where she crushed a lethal amount of OxyContin, mixed it into the yogurt and gave it to the man, testimony in the case showed.

He ate it, then went into his bedroom, where he died, prosecutors said.

Barrett then took war medals from his living room wall and put them in her car because Koency wanted her to donate the items to a veterans hospital, Baytieh said.

Hours after Koency ate the yogurt concoction, Barrett called 911 to report that she had found him dead.

During the investigation, the Orange County Sheriff's Department discovered a motion-activated camera that had captured Barrett mixing the yogurt with the medication and giving it to Koency.

nicole.santacruz@latimes.com

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