Bill Pugliano  /  AP
Jack Kevorkian, pictured in court in 1999, has served 5½ years of a 10- to 25-year prison sentence for second-degree murder.
updated 11/8/2004 6:12:33 PM ET 2004-11-08T23:12:33

An attorney for Jack Kevorkian, the advocate for assisted suicide known as “Doctor Death,” asked the state parole board Monday to recommend that he be released from prison for health reasons.

The lawyer, Mayer Morganroth, said that Kevorkian had health problems including high blood pressure, a hernia and arthritis and that the board should urge Gov. Jennifer Granholm to pardon him or commute his sentence.

Kevorkian’s blood pressure “has been extremely volatile in nature and has risen to the danger level for a heart attack at times,” Morganroth wrote.

Kevorkian, 76, has served 5½ years of a 10- to 25-year prison sentence for second-degree murder, and his health has worsened, Morganroth said. He is not eligible for parole until 2007.

The request comes a week after U.S. Supreme Court justices decided against hearing Kevorkian’s appeal of his conviction for the 1998 poisoning of Thomas Youk.

Youk suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease, and his death, which Kevorkian called a mercy killing, was videotaped and shown on national television.

Morganroth said Kevorkian would not assist in any more suicides if he were released.

Russ Marlan, a spokesman for the state Corrections Department, said the department had not yet received Kevorkian’s request. But he said medical commutations were normally granted only for inmates expected to live a year or less.

“We have plenty of prisoners that have cataracts and arthritis, but that doesn’t mean they should be granted a commutation,” Marlan said. “They’re only granted for offenders that have little chance of surviving very much longer.”

The request for pardon or commutation is Kevorkian’s second. The state parole board voted against his first request a year ago.

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