A legal defense fund has been set up to help Barbara Mancini, the Philadelphia nurse charged with assisted suicide for giving her 93-year-old father morphine in February.

The fund was created by Compassion & Choices, an advocacy group focused on giving dying people more control at the end of life.

Mancini, 57, of Roxborough, has incurred more than $104,000 in legal fees, said her husband, Joe.

"We are very grateful," he said Tuesday.

He said he and his wife had paid attorney fees by draining their college fund and borrowing from family members whom they hope to repay.

Barbara Mancini was arrested Feb. 7 and charged with aiding a suicide, a felony. Her father, Joseph Yourshaw of Pottsville, a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge, suffered from kidney failure, end-stage diabetes, heart disease, and the effects of stroke.

He was in hospice care, had signed a do-not-resuscitate order, and designated his daughter to be his health-care proxy.

What is beyond dispute is that Mancini handed her father morphine after he asked for it. How much he drank is unknown.

In a hearing Oct. 10 on a motion to dismiss the case, Anthony Forray, senior deputy state attorney general, argued that Barbara Mancini pressured the hospice to prescribe morphine for her father, and that when she handed him the drug, she expected it to end his life.

Mancini's defense lawyer, Fred Fanelli, maintained that Yourshaw was prescribed morphine by a physician when he entered hospice, that his daughter handed him the drug only after he requested it, and that he had a right to take as much morphine as necessary to ease his pain, even if it ended his life.

After Yourshaw drank the morphine, a hospice nurse arrived and, against Mancini's wishes, summoned police. Yourshaw was revived at a hospital, where he died four days later.

Mancini could face up to 10 years in prison. She was suspended from her job as an emergency room nurse after a preliminary hearing on Aug. 30, when the case became global news.

Judge Jacqueline Russell has yet to rule on the motion to dismiss the case.

"Things have really been tough on Barbara over the past month," Joe Mancini said. "I remind her we have to keep on fighting. One of her favorite songs, 'I Won't Back Down' from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, she plays that a lot."

For information on the legal defense fund, go to: http://bit.ly/IKVhy6

mvitez@phillynews.com

215-854-5639 @michaelvitez