Murder By Advance Care Directive?

A murder trial unfolding in the Ozarks has all the elements of a made-for-TV-movie: strong characters; conflict over money; elaborate alleged murder plots and (yesterday) acquittal by a jury of a woman charged with crimes involving very few facts that might place her at the scene.  The theory of the case went something like this: disgruntled adult daughter learns of well-off father's plans to leave his money to some one else and arranges for a double murder or, at least, deadly assaults, after which daughter appears with father's apparently forged advance health care directive and has life support terminated.

That two lives were lost is tragic.  That this scenario might have been characterized as murder by advance care directive is also tragic, casting a shadow of potential abuse over such documents when, in fact, they can do so much good.

In light of that, you might be surprised to know that, eventually, the staff of the  hospital that took care of the father near the end of his life revealed that the (forged) advanced health care directive was not the driver of the ultimate decision to terminate life support, the daughter's position as next of kin was. This little tidbit came out when the two fraudulent witnesses to the (forged) advance care directive were able to raise evidence of the advance health care directive's irrelevance when law enforcement turned its attention to them.

There are so many astonishing facts here, it is hard to focus on only one. But I do wonder why an apparently valid advance health care directive was disregarded by the facility.  Perhaps it was not as apparently valid as it might have seemed to others. Or, could it have been that advance care directives are virtually unenforceable and it is rare to even catch wind of an action where failure to honor one has been asserted?  Indeed, mandatory waiver of certain kinds of advanced health care directives is often required by certain kinds of providers before care will even be undertaken.

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