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Woman Gets Probation in Assisted Suicide Case

Elizabeth Barrett pleads guilty to helping an 86-year-old World War II vet kill himself in Laguna Niguel.

A social worker was sentenced to three years of probation Friday after pleading guilty Friday to helping an 86-year-old World War II veteran commit suicide with drug-laced yogurt.

As part of a plea bargain, Elizabeth Barrett, 66, of Laguna Woods, admitted helping Jack Koency kill himself in 2011, Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh said.

Barrett has a brain tumor, which was taken into account when offering the plea deal, Baytieh said.

Koency had been planning to kill himself before he discussed it with Barrett, Baytieh said.

The maximum punishment Barrett faced was three years in prison.

Koency took a lethal dose of Oxycontin mixed with yogurt Sept. 30, 2011, Baytieh said.

At first, Koency's death appeared routine, although he was not suffering from any chronic diseases, said Jim Amormino of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

But investigators dug deeper when they discovered Koency had already arranged for his ashes to be scattered at sea by the Neptune Society.

Detectives noticed a motion-triggered video camera in Koency's apartment at 25502 Camino Los Padres, and a review of images recorded just before his death about 4 p.m. that day showed Barrett crushing some pills for him, according to Amormino.

A post-mortem analysis showed Koency died from a combination of Oxycodone, Fluoxytine and Alprazolam, he said.

Initially, Barrett said she had been with Koency earlier in the day of his death but had left the apartment about 3:30 p.m. and didn't give him any medication, Amormino said. When confronted with the video, she admitted giving him the mixture and helping him commit suicide, Amormino said.

Barrett and Koency had known each other several years and would meet occasionally with another group at Starbucks, Baytieh said. They had not had contact for several months before his death, but reconnected about a week before it, Baytieh said.

Barrett drove Koency to the Neptune Society the morning of Sept. 30 so he could make funeral arrangements for himself, Baytieh said. Barrett then went to a store to buy yogurt, a bottle of brandy and over-the-counter heartburn medicine, which were used to help Koency swallow the pills without experiencing acid reflux, the prosecutor said.

Barrett drove Koency back to his apartment, mixed the drugs into the yogurt and gave it to him, Baytieh said. Koency ate the mixture, went to his bedroom and died, the prosecutor said.

Barrett took Koency's World War II medals and put them in her car before calling 911 to report the death, Baytieh said.

A message left for defense attorney Daryl Anthony was not immediately returned.

– City News Service

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