Nurse Charged With Murder in Killing of Friend Who Asked for Help Dying in Orange County

A registered nurse has been charged with murder after injecting a lethal drug into a friend who asked her to help him die following a breakup, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said Monday.

Kristie Jane Koepplin, 58, pleaded not guilty Monday, after being arrested in Maricopa County, Arizona, on Oct. 15, 2019, more than a year after hotel staff found 58-year-old Matthew Peter Sokalski dead inside a Mission Viejo hotel room on April 6, 2018, authorities said.

Koepplin, of Arizona, was charged with one felony count of murder and faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life if convicted as charged, the DA’s office said.

“California’s right to die law strictly governs the conditions under which terminally ill adult patients with the capacity to make medical decisions can be prescribed an aid-in-dying medication,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a news release Monday. “That was not the case here. It is beyond disturbing that someone who is trained as a nurse to aid the sick and the dying would twist their duty to willingly end the life of another human being.”

Koepplin was released from custody Monday after she posted $1 million bail. She is scheduled to return to court on Jan. 7, 2020.

Editor’s note: If you are feeling distressed or concerned for a loved one’s wellbeing, help is available through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. It provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also call a loved one, member of the clergy or 911.

The California Peer-Run Warm Line also offers free support for nonemergency mental health issues, and can be reached at 855-845-7415 on 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays, and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays.

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