Prosecutor William L. Phinney's voice wavered for a moment, for he, like almost everyone in the courtroom, knew and liked the defendant. Then he pressed firmly on. "It is a difficult thing to ask for—particularly for me. But if we are to live in a society of laws, the people within that society must abide by those laws." And so last week the state of New Hampshire demanded the conviction of 41-year-old Dr. Hermann Sander, accused of the mercy killing of a dying cancer patient.

The defense attorney, white-haired Louis E. Wyman, had fumbled with his thoughts and fumbled with his...

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