Two Baltimore men indicted in a Georgia assisted-suicide investigation waived their right to an extradition hearing yesterday morning, hoping to accelerate their release from custody as they await trial.
Attorneys for Dr. Lawrence D. Egbert, 81, and Nicholas Alec Sheridan, 60, who were arrested Wednesday in an eight-state probe of the Marietta, Ga.-based Final Exit Network, asked that the men be allowed to transport themselves to Georgia, where authorities say they plan to allow the men to be released on $60,000 bond.
District Court Judge Jeannie J. Hong said said she would consult with Georgia officials in an attempt to expedite the process.
"They have no reluctance to go to Georgia, where they've never been and never fled from, to face these charges," attorney Michael Kaminkow told reporters afterward.
Egbert, an anesthesiologist, is an unpaid visiting assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine but does not treat patients at the hospital. Sheridan, former owner of a catering company, is a part-time aide in the General Assembly to Del. Maggie McIntosh.
Authorities with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation say the pair played an integral role in connecting 58-year-old John Celmer of Cumming, Ga., to the network, which aided in his death in July.
At the hearing, Kaminkow said Egbert has high blood pressure and has not had access to proper medication. His blood pressure approached stroke levels last night, Kaminkow said. Sheridan, meanwhile, pleaded with Hong to release him so he could make arrangements for his 17-year-old daughter.
"Just one day - I could arrange things so she can carry on with her life," he said.
A group of about a dozen supporters attended the hearing to show their support. Max Obuszewski, a peace activist who held a sign that read, "I support Larry & Nick - Human Rights Activists," said the two men have been active in anti-war and human rights efforts, though he said he was unaware of their involvement in the Final Exit Network that is alleged to have helped facilitate suicides.
"It is, to me, a trumped-up case," Obuszewski said.
Asked about his role with Final Exit, Egbert's wife, Ellen Barfield, repeatedly bristled at the term "assisted suicide," saying her husband helped educate terminally sick people on how to "self-deliver." She would not answer several questions about whether Egbert had ever been present during someone's death.
Kaminkow said Egbert's support of right-to-die efforts is no secret and that he is a member of a 3,000-member nationwide advocacy group. The attorney said he didn't see the difference between the group's efforts and hospices.
"A hospice is a slow assisted suicide, where they are deprived of assistance and given drugs instead of medication," Kaminkow said. "It isn't much different."