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Former Assemblyman pleads not guilty to allegedly assisting wife's suicide

INDIO, Calif. - Former California Assemblyman Steve Clute pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of helping his wife, a longtime university educator, commit suicide at their Palm Desert home last year.

Clute, 68, was charged by prosecutors last week with aiding, advising or encouraging another person to commit suicide. Following his arraignment Wednesday morning, Clute is slated to return to court Jan. 26 for a felony settlement conference.

The former Navy pilot, who served in the Assembly from 1982 to 1992, is accused of helping his 66-year-old wife Pamela take her own life on Aug. 21, 2016. Authorities allege that Clute provided his wife with the handgun she used to kill herself.

Clute allegedly told a 911 dispatcher, as well as responding sheriff's deputies, that his wife suffered from a chronic back condition that caused her extreme pain and made her want to end her life, according to court documents.

Clute said he provided her with the gun, but did not pull the trigger, according to an arrest warrant declaration. Deputies allege that Clute changed his clothes at least three times before calling 911 and took about 40 minutes to call the police.

Read: Former assemblyman took 40 minutes to call 911

State assisted suicide laws only allow for physicians to administer life-ending prescriptions for patients suffering from terminal illnesses.

Pamela Clute was a mathematics professor at UC Riverside, the alma mater of the educator and her husband, and also served as assistant vice chancellor and UCR Foundation trustee at the time of her death.

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