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Assisted suicide case ends in American woman's release from Canadian jail

Linda Jean McNall and her mother, Shirley Vann, were broke and sick when they drove from Arizona to Alberta to end their lives.

Assisted suicide linda jean mcnall 01 07 14Enlarge
Linda Jean McNall, a 53-year-old American woman, pleaded guilty last December in Alberta, Canada, to assisting her mother's suicide. A judge released her on Jan. 7, 2014, to time served, setting up her return home to Arizona where her fate remains unclear. (John Moore/AFP/Getty Images)

Linda Jean McNall, a 53-year-old American woman convicted of helping her mother commit suicide last May, will not spend any more time locked inside a Canadian jail cell.

Yet, her fate once she’s returned to Arizona on Wednesday remains unclear with no job and $100,000 worth of medical bills awaiting her.

McNall pleaded guilty last December to assisting suicide, a rare charge in Canada with even fewer convictions.

Along with two family dogs, McNall and 79-year-old Shirley Vann drove into Alberta looking for a place to carry out their plan. They eventually found a spot near Jasper National Park to overdose on insulin and pain killers while inside a tent with an open propane tank.

Vann and the two dogs died, but McNall survived the suicide pact.

Judge Charles Gardener sided with defense and prosecutors, who agreed she needs help not more jail, and sentenced her to time served on Tuesday.

“I take some comfort that your condition is improving,” the judge told McNall, according to the Canadian Press. “I hope you will receive some ongoing treatment and comfort ... and that you eventually find worth and value in your life.”

McNall finding that salvation appears doubtful.

Canadian border security agents are to hand her to an American crisis management team once in Arizona on Wednesday.

More from GlobalPost: American woman pleads guilty to assisting mother’s suicide in Canada

While the Canadian government requested she’s transferred to an American hospital, authorities in the United States have so far rejected that request over fears she has no insurance, CP reported.

McNall said she’s facing life on the street.

“It’s very scary, the unknown,” McNall told CBC. “I’ve never been homeless before with no money. It’s really, just scary.”

It was mounting financial trouble and ongoing health problems that drove them to such grave actions.

During the 1990s, McNall contracted Hepatitis C on the job as a nurse, which resulted in social security disability. She has arthritis, is diabetic and has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

McNall twice more attempted suicide while in an Alberta facility awaiting trial.

Her mother also suffered from various health issues, and had intestine removed to battle colon cancer.

While an autopsy didn’t find active cancer, McNall said her mother was in constant pain and had talked of suicide for about a year. After failed attempts to talk her mother out of it, McNall said she came to believe there was no alternative.

They sold all their belongings in Arizona, wrote letters to creditors, and drove to Canada.

“We ended up in Canada because we thought it was the most beautiful place on earth,” McNall told CBC. “We came up here for about three weeks’ vacation … Both of us happy; neither one of us with second thoughts.”

Now she’s trying to assure those around her that she’s determined to move ahead with her life.

“I’m going to do everything I can. I want to try real hard to make my mom proud.”

More from GlobalPost: Man has hard feelings for US health care after mom’s suicide

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/canada/140107/assisted-suicide-linda-mcnall-shirley-vann-arizona-alberta