Two days before he affixed to Janet Adkins his homemade device that allowed her to give herself a lethal intravenous dose of medication, Jack Kevorkian met Adkins and her husband in a Michigan motel room to videotape a conversation about what they intended to do. It was not the first exchange between the doctor and the Oregon couple; Janet Adkins had contacted Kevorkian in the fall of 1989, and he had examined her medical records and talked to her on the telephone about her Alzheimer's disease. The 40-minute videotape was played in court last week, just before a Michigan judge dismissed a first-degree murder charge against Kevorkian. The following exchanges are excerpted from the tape:

Kevorkian: How was your life before, and how is it different now?

Adkins: My life was wonderful before, because I could play the piano. I could read. And I can't do any of those things.

Kevorkian: You mean read language, read music too? Music and language, you could read, you can't do that now?

Adkins: A little bit. But it's too taxing for me.

Kevorkian: It's taxing?

Adkins: Yes.

Kevorkian: When you see a musical staff, can you identify the notes?

Adkins: No. I don't even try.

Kevorkian: What else could you do, that you can't do anymore? Were you active?

Adkins: Oh, absolutely (small laugh). I'm a tennis player.

Kevorkian: How good were you?

Adkins, laughing: Fan-tas-tic... .

Kevorkian: You can still play tennis?

Adkins: Yes.

Kevorkian: So physically, you're not too impaired, physically.

Adkins: No.

Kevorkian: But between mental and physical coordination? Do you think that's where the impairment is? When you see a tennis ball coming at you, kind of out of nowhere, can you get it?

Adkins: Oh, yeah. There's no problem.

Ronald Adkins: The score is a problem.

Kevorkian: Or anything you're reading that has an abstract --

Adkins: Oh, yeah.

Kevorkian: Do you find this so incapacitating that it, uh, it distorts the balance of life, on a negative side?

Adkins: Absolutely.

Kevorkian: That you can't put up with it at all?

Adkins: It's not the way I wanted it at all... .

Kevorkian: Janet, you know what you're asking me to do.

Adkins: Yes.

Kevorkian: You realize that. You want help from me.

Adkins: I do.

Kevorkian: You realize that I can make arrangements for everything, and you would have to do it. That you would have to push the button.

Adkins: I understand.

Kevorkian: And you realize that you can stop any time. You don't have to go on.

Adkins: Right... .

Kevorkian (to Ronald): You understand, of course, that I prefer that she do change her mind and go on {living}. You understand that.

Ronald Adkins: Yes.

Kevorkian: Because it's a tragic event at best. The end of human life is never desirable. You know that. Under reasonable circumstances. So what we're doing here is pondering whether the circumstances are unreasonable. And you've come to the conclusion that they are unreasonable. The circumstances are such that the decision is rational.

Ronald Adkins: Right. ... And in that regard too, she was going to do it in November. ... She had available drugs that she could have taken. But this option -- this is a much more humane way.

Kevorkian: Why would you say this is much more humane?

Ronald Adkins: Well, in that anything I've read, and I've done a lot of reading about this, even doctors that have concluded that one day when it becomes legal -- that the most humane way would be the sodium pentothal way. I've had sodium pentothal. It is a very peaceful way. With drugs, there can be problems -- as far as the dosage, as far as the body accepting it, it can sometimes not be effective... .

Kevorkian: Any other closing comments by either you, Ron, or you, Janet? Is there anything you'd like to say? People are looking at this out there. Some say you're correct. Some say you're not. Some say you're doing the wrong thing. What would you tell them?

Janet Adkins: That I just -- I want to get out.

Kevorkian: What would you say if they say that they think you're doing the wrong thing? What would you say to them?

Janet Adkins: I'm sorry. I just still want to get out.