For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
WOMAN CONVICTED AND SENTENCED FOR ILLEGALLY ASSISTING SUICIDE OF WWII VETERAN BY PROVIDING HIM WITH LETHAL DOSE OF OXYCONTIN-LACED YOGURT
SANTA ANA – A woman was sentenced today to three years of formal probation for illegally assisting an 86-year-old WWII veteran with committing suicide by providing him with a lethal dose of Oxycontin mixed into yogurt. Elizabeth Barrett, 66, Laguna Woods, pleaded guilty today to one felony count of assisted suicide. When making the sentencing recommendation, the People considered the nature of the crime, the impact to and wishes of the victim’s family, and the defendant’s lack of criminal record and medical condition.
At the time of the crime, Jack Koency was an 86-year-old WWII veteran who lived in Laguna Niguel. He was not terminally ill, bedridden, or immobile, but had decided to commit suicide. The defendant first met Koency a few years ago and the two occasionally met socially at Starbucks as part of a larger group. The two had not had contact for several months and had re-connected approximately a week before Koency’s death.
On the morning of Sept. 30, 2011, Barrett drove Koency to the Neptune Society so that he could make his own funeral arrangements. The defendant went to a store and purchased yogurt, a bottle of brandy, and over-the-counter heartburn medication. Heartburn medication is used to prevent acid reflux, which is common when a person takes a large dosage of medication or pills.
Barrett drove Koency back to his apartment. She crushed a lethal amount of Oxycontin and mixed it into the yogurt with the intention of assisting Koency in committing suicide. Barrett gave the Oxycontin-laced yogurt to Koency, who ate it, went into his bedroom, laid down, and died.
After Koency died, Barrett removed his WWII medals from his wall and put them in her car. After waiting a while, the defendant called 911 to report that she had discovered Koency dead. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) responded to the scene and investigated this case.
In the course of their investigation, OCSD discovered a motion-activated camera. The defendant was seen on the video crushing the medication, mixing it in the yogurt and providing it to Koency, and removing the medals from the wall. The defendant was arrested March 28, 2012.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.