MARICOPA COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE
On April 6, 2018, staff of a Mission Viejo, California, hotel discovered the body of 57-year-old Matthew Peter Sokalski in one of their rooms.
A press release from the Orange County District Attorney alleges that Sokalski’s friend from Arizona, 58-year-old registered nurse Kristie Jane Koepplin, assisted in his death by “injecting him with drugs after he asked her to help him die following a breakup.”
Over a year later, Koepplin was charged with one felony count of murder. She has pleaded not guilty and now faces 25 years in prison if convicted. On Monday, she posted a $1 million bail and was released from custody before returning to court for a pre-trail hearing on January 7, 2020.
Her attorney, Michael Guisti, told NBC Los Angeles that his client is “innocent,” adding that the case rests, “ultimately on inferences made by what they found in the room. They have no substantial evidence linking my client to the victim’s death. We’re fighting vigorously because my client is innocent.”
“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,” District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement.
Death with dignity acts (also known as physician-assisted dying) allow qualifying terminally-ill adult patients to request medication to quicken their death, according to nonprofit Death with Dignity National Center. It is legal in the following U.S. jurisdictions: California, Colorado, D.C., Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.
“That was not the case here,” Spitzer said of Koepplin. “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.”