Band Vows to Defy Assisted Suicide Law

September 29, 2003

Mitch Stacy of The Associated Press reports that the leader of the rock group HELL ON EARTH said an onstage suicide will happen during a private St. Petersburg concert this weekend in defiance of a new city law designed to stop it.

"The show will go on," Billy Tourtelot said Monday. "It will be available on the Internet, and it will be in the city limits [of St. Petersburg]."

Earlier Monday, the St. Petersburg City Council unanimously approved an emergency ordinance that makes it illegal in the city to conduct a suicide for commercial or entertainment purposes, and to host, promote and sell tickets for such an event.

"While I still think it's a publicity stunt, we still couldn't sit idly by and let somebody lose their life," council member Bill Foster said.

Al Galbraith, an assistant city attorney, said the city will also seek a court injunction against the band to keep them from advertising and allowing the suicide to occur.

Tourtelot, 33, says the suicide show will be played before a "a select few people" at an undisclosed location in St. Petersburg and be shown live on the band's web site, He wouldn't disclose any details about the terminally ill person or say how the person planned to kill himself.

The point, he said, is to raise awareness that physician-assisted suicide should be legalized in Florida. If the terminally ill person could find a physician to assist, then the person wouldn't be forced to do it himself, Tourtelot said.

"If you can die for your country, why can't you die for yourself?" he said.

Tourtelot said he's not worried about the legal ramifications. Violating the city ordinance is punishable with up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. A Florida law already makes it manslaughter, a second-degree felony, to assist in a suicide, but he insists the band is not assisting the act.

"This person will be doing this self-deliverance totally by themselves, on their own accord," he said.

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