A 73-year-old Vancouver Island grandmother has been found not guilty on two counts of assisting with the suicides of two terminally-ill women.


Evelyn Martens (File photo)
A B.C. Supreme Court jury brought down its verdict late on Thursday afternoon.

After her acquittal, Evelyn Martens hugged family members, and said her days with the Right to Die Society of Canada are over.

Martens was charged in 2002. the day after her alleged involvement in the suicide of a retired Vancouver teacher, who was in the final stages of terminal cancer.

The second charge stems from the suicide of a woman in Duncan in January 2002. She had been suffering from ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease.

Martens, who had sent both women literature on how to commit suicide, admitted she was with them when they died.

The case turned on the question of whether she was there to provide comfort, as the defence contended, or to help or encourage the suicides, as the prosecution argued.

It is not illegal to commit suicide in Canada, but it is against the law to have someone else help.

The verdict is seen as a major boost to the right-to-die movement in Canada.