Tough questions for potential jurors as trial begins for man accused of helping girlfriend commit suicide

PLATTSMOUTH, Nebraska — Potential jurors in a rare assisted-suicide trial were asked tough questions Wednesday morning about their views on taking one’s own life and wishing someone with a terminal illness could die.

A jury of 12 people — eight women and four men — was selected just after noon in Cass County District Court. A three-day trial is anticipated.

Matthew Stubbendieck of Weeping Water is accused of helping a girlfriend kill herself in a wooded area near this community south of Omaha.

Alicia Wilemon-Sullivan, 38, was pronounced dead on Aug. 5, four days after Stubbendieck told authorities he had left the Florida woman to die.

He told officials that his girlfriend said she had terminal cancer and that she wanted to find a place where she could die in his arms.

An autopsy could not determine whether Wilemon-Sullivan had cancer or how she died.

Stubbendieck told authorities that his girlfriend had slashed her wrists and that he had tried to smother her but could not go through with it.

During pre-trial questioning, potential jurors were asked if they knew people who had committed suicide and if they agreed with the state law that makes assisting with suicide a crime.

Jurors were also asked if they ever had been manipulated and if they ever had wished the suffering would end for someone they knew battling a terminal illness.

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