Solane Verraine, who pled guilty to assisting her husband, Johnny Asia, to commit suicide in Phoenicia in November 2016, has been released from the Ulster County jail. On February 21, Judge Don Williams sentenced her to one to three years in state prison, but the next day he called her into court to announce that he had changed his mind.
“He said this was a case he has struggled to keep his personal feelings out of, but me and this case wouldn’t leave him alone,” Verraine reported. “His conscience wouldn’t let him send me to prison or do any more time.” Williams changed her sentence to six months in jail and five years’ probation, as Chief Assistant District Attorney Michael Kavanagh had originally recommended. She had already served 15 months, so she was immediately released.
“The judge had second thoughts,” explained Kavanagh. “Here’s a woman in her 60s who has mental health issues with no criminal history. He ended up following the defense attorneys’ and my recommendation, on the condition that she continue to engage in mental health treatment.”
Kavanagh found the judge’s about-face most unusual, commenting, “I’ve never seen it happen before.” He said Verraine had acknowledged that her action was legally and morally wrong. Although some people believe assisted suicide should be legal in New York State, the law considers it a crime. “But does she deserve to go to prison for this?” said Kavanagh. “I don’t think we’ll be seeing her in court again. We’ve accomplished our goal if she goes on to live a law-abiding life.”
Verraine has been staying with friends in the local area since her release.