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U.S. woman pleads guilty to aiding mother’s suicide

STONY PLAIN — Linda Jean McNall and her mother had lived most of their lives together, caring for each other, so when the senior’s health worsened, the pair struck a suicide pact.

They sold everything they owned, wrote letters to their creditors and gave up their apartment in Sierra Vista, Ariz.

Then they drove north to Alberta.

Court heard Tuesday that the women decided to end their lives in a tent, pitched in a secluded mountain area near Rock Lake, about 350 kilometres west of Edmonton.

On May 8, they swallowed some sleeping pills and injected themselves — and their two dogs — with insulin, according to a prepared statement put into the record by the Crown. Next, they opened a propane tank inside the tent and went to sleep.

Shirley Vann, who was in her 70s, never woke again. The dogs also died.

But 53-year-old McNall survived, despite at least three more suicide attempts over the next two days.

Following a psychiatric assessment, McNall pleaded guilty in Stony Plain court to a charge of aiding a suicide. She is to be sentenced Jan. 7.

Crown prosecutor Robert Marr said he may ask McNall receive time served for the eight months she has spent in pretrial custody.

He believes the assisted suicide case is the first in the province. There have only been a handful of other cases in Canada, and those offenders got suspended sentences, he said.

Whatever the judge decides, McNall will be deported back to the U.S., said Marr. A doctor has also recommended she be transferred to a hospital there to receive treatment for depression.

 
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