A hometown newspaper with a local office, local owners & lots of local news

Man sentenced for 'mercy killing' dies by suicide

A Carlton County man who was sentenced last month for shooting his ailing wife died by suicide two days later in a Minnesota prison.

Judge Amy Lukasavitz had sentenced 67-year-old Raymond Arthur Julian to 25 ½ years in prison — the guideline sentence — after an emotional sentencing hearing at the Carlton County Courthouse Dec. 18. (Find that story in the Dec. 22 issue of the Pine Knot News.)

Aaron Swanum, Minnesota Department of Corrections spokesperson, confirmed that Julian entered Minnesota Correctional Facility-St. Cloud on Dec. 20 and died the same day.

“His manner of death was suicide,” Swanum wrote in response to the Pine Knot. He did not provide any other requested information.

Carlton County Sheriff Kelly Lake confirmed that a deputy transported Julian to St. Cloud on Dec. 20, leaving around 8:45 that morning with arrival at roughly 11 a.m., according to court documents. Details on Julian’s death are minimal. No autopsy report is yet available, said Erik Thornton of the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office, because the case is still open.

Julian admitted that he killed his wife in December 2021 — at her request, he said, after she was unable to complete several suicide attempts — and intended to kill himself afterward. When law enforcement arrived at the couple’s home near Kettle River, Julian was holding packages, keepsakes he intended to mail to others, prior to taking his own life. That was the day after Tracy’s death.

Julian’s attorney, Andrew Poole, had sought leniency in the case, requesting both a shorter sentence and that the sentence be stayed, because Julian was not a threat to others.

Dr. Sara Vaccarella, a clinical forensic psychologist with Kartta Group in Duluth, testified for the defense during the sentencing hearing that Raymond and Tracy’s relationship was consistent with the profile of mercy killings: killing out of protection or to relieve suffering. Mercy killings tend to happen in married couples where the man is older than the woman and the woman has significant health problems, Vaccarella said.

“I was saddened to hear the news about Raymond Julian’s passing,” Poole told the Pine Knot this week. “The deaths of him and Tracy were a true tragedy. I hope this unfortunate case can add to our collective conversation regarding our existing laws. While death with dignity is not legal in Minnesota, it is an option in many other jurisdictions in this country. By many accounts, the Julians were just a loving couple grappling with end-of-life hardships.”

Minnesota does not allow assisted suicide. A bill that would have allowed adults with less than six months to live to get a prescription from their doctor to help them end their life failed to get a hearing in the most recent state legislative session. Currently, 10 states and the District of Columbia have laws providing for medical aid for dying. No states allow firearm-assisted suicide.

Read the sentencing story here: https://www.pineknotnews.com/story/2023/12/22/news/its-never-ok-to-murder-even-if-youre-doing-it-to-help/10446.html.