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Blood Update

Drunken driver escapes murder verdict.

A DRUNKEN driver was convicted of manslaughter and not murder in the case of a Jehovah’s Witness who died after refusing blood transfusions.

The jury deliberated 3 ½ days before reaching the verdict against Keith Cook, a 32-year-old car mechanic.

Cook ploughed his truck into a car on March 7, 1998, pushing the vehicle into Jadine Russell, who was standing by the side of the road in Pomona, California.

Mrs. Russell, 55, suffered broken bones and severe bleeding. But she told emergency workers and doctors “No blood!” at least 10 times, and even tried to pull out an intravenous line, relatives said.

During the trial defence lawyer Charles Unger argued that it was Mrs. Russell’s refusal to have a blood transfusion that actually killed her, and not the accident itself. He claimed that Cook was not guilty of murder.

“The key issue here is choice and responsibility,” Unger told the jury.

“People are free to have their religious choice and freedom, but when it has consequences for someone else, that is where the line is drawn.”

An emergency room doctor also testified that Mrs. Russell acknowledged the risk she was taking by saying, “If it’s my time to go, It’s my time to go.”

But prosecutor Larry Larson disagreed. He said: “He (Cook) set in motion a chain of events that eventually led to the death of Jadine Russell.

“You can conclude the lack of a transfusion was a contributing factor in her death. But he can’t rely on someone saving him from these actions that he has caused.”

If he had been found guilty of murder Cook would have faced a sentence of 15 years to life, instead of the four to 10 years for manslaughter. Sentencing was set for February 11th 1999.

Jurors left the courtroom without commenting.

Cook was convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter, driving under the influence and causing injury to Mrs. Russell’s daughter, Jennifer.

Jehovah’s Witness ordered to let dying child have blood transfusion.

A MOTHER who tried to prevent her baby having a life-saving blood transfusion has been overruled by a British judge.

The case, involving two-week old girl, who was born with a potentially fatal blood disorder;  was rushed to court when doctors warned that the baby would die if she were not treated immediately.

The parents, who are both Jehovah’s Witnesses, had tried to stop their seriously ill daughter being given the transfusion on religious grounds.


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