Dr. Jack Kevorkian — embraced as a compassionate crusader and reviled as a murderous crank — died early this morning.

Known as Dr. Death even before launching his fierce advocacy and practice of assisted suicides, Kevorkian, 83, died at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, where he had been hospitalized with kidney and heart problems.

His attorney, Mayer Morganroth, said it appears Kevorkian suffered a pulmonary thrombosis when a blood clot from his leg broke free and lodged in his heart. With Kevorkian was his niece Ava Janus and Morganroth.

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