The narrative’s first line reads: “Deliberately assist in the self-murder of his girlfriend.” There is no such thing as self-murder, murder being by definition the willful killing of another person. But in Florida law, “self-murder” is still used synonymously–if inaccurately–with suicide. And assisted suicide is illegal in the state.
So read the first line in the narrative of the arrest of Bruce Haughton, who at the end of June found himself at the hospital, willingly or not being kept alive after a failed suicide attempt, and on Wednesday was booked at the Flagler County jail on a charge of “assisting self-murder,” which Florida law considers manslaughter and a second-degree felony upon conviction.
Haughton, 52, was listed as a transient in his arrest report. He had previously been boyfriend to Katherine Goddard, 52, who lived at 29 Red Clover Lane in Palm Coast. The evening of June 30, Goddard’s daughter got home and soon, smelling exhaust fumes, discovered her mother and Haughton unconscious in the couple’s Ford Escort, in the garage. The garage doors had been taped shut. A pipe had been attached to the exhaust and slung into the trunk. Authorities determined that Goddard was dead. Haughton was still breathing.
Both had been on pain pills. Both had decided to cut off the pills, according to Goddard’s daughter, and were planning to move to New Hampshire to live with Goddard’s parents, though Goddard had recently been told that Haughton was not welcome “to the assistance that was going to be provided” in New Hampshire, according to the arrest report. Haughton told authorities they had decided to end their lives on June 29. The car developed problems. They went to Walgreens to buy sleeping pills, and rigged up the car with the hose from the exhaust pipe and duct-taped the garage door. None of it worked. They discussed using a gun but she wasn’t willing. So Haughton rigged up the car with a bigger hose from the tailpipe, and the next night, the plan was carried out.
“Haughton’s carboxyhemoglobin level was 3 percent,” a sheriff’s release on the arrest states. “CDC.gov supports a diagnosis of carbon monoxide poisoning when the level is greater than 9 percent in people who smoke cigarettes, which Haughton does.”
Haughton, who has a few arrests on misdemeanors in the last few years, is being held on no bond at the moment. His charge is listed as a felony on his arrest report, but as a misdemeanor on his jail booking sheet.
Assisted suicide is legal in California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and Washington, D.C., but in every case, it must be physician-assisted (with two physicians’ clearance), and the patient must be certified to be facing a terminally ill condition with six months or less of life expected. A situation like Haughton’s would still have found him facing charges. Four states have no laws regarding assisted suicide.
If you or someone you know has thoughts of suicide, call 9-1-1. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 800-273-TALK (8255) and it is free and confidential. Or call the Stewart-Marchman Crisis Line at 800-539-4228, available 24 hours and located in Daytona Beach.