Deadline for Dr. Death

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PONTIAC, Mich: He's already been tried and acquitted on two assisted-suicide charges, yet he still leaves a note on every one of his "patients" instructing police to call his attorney. So it was no surprise to see Dr. Jack Kevorkian brazenly demand that authorities either charge him in the death of 21-year-old quadriplegic Roosevelt Dawson or return the euthanasia equipment they seized -- chemicals, syringes and a mysterious so-called "suicide machine." What's unusual is that Oakland County Circuit Judge David Breck agrees, and handed prosecutors an April 1 deadline: If they don't act by then, Dr. Death gets his gear back.

"This playing of games must end," Kevorkian told Breck, the judge who also presided over the doctor's 1996 trial. "This inquisition we're in the grips of must be loosened -- otherwise, we're in the Dark Ages." Prosecutor David Gorcyca has already somberly admitted that trying Kevorkian would "waste taxpayer money" unless the state of Michigan tightens its assisted-suicide laws. So why keep his stuff? Because it buys a little time for Kevorkian's customers to think twice about whether they really want to join the ranks of his 100-plus patients. They’ve got 11 days now before the Grim Reaper gets back to business.