Tuesday, September 21, 2010
A New Criminal Defense Of Caffeine Induced Insanity?
Play the insanity card! Play the race card! But play the caffeine intoxication card? Now I've seen everything. Woody Will Smith, a 33 year-old Kentucky man, is on trial for murder. Woody, a father of two, is accused of murdering his wife, Amanda, in 2009. His defense? He was so jacked up on caffeine (coffee, diet pills and energy drinks) that he was too insane to have consciously, intentionally strangled his wife. Smith claims he was delusional from chronic insomnia and fear that his wife would leave him.
Defense expert Dr. Robert Noelker indicates that the defendant dropped his children off at school "in a daze." Dr. Noelker opines: "It is my opinion that this disorder was the direct result of psychosis due to severe insomnia." Associated Press.
The American Psychiatric Association classifies a caffeine overdose as an excess of 300 milligrams -- around nine cans of Coke, four Red Bulls or three Starbucks tazo chai lattes. Mayo Clinic's. Smith allegedly consumed 400 mg of caffeine on the day of the murder. However, the state claims that blood tests do not support the defense. This is not much different than Dan White's claims that a junk food consumption was evidence of his depression which was to blame for his 1978 assassination of California politician Harvey Milk. (See HBO movie.) In 2009 Daniel Noble blamed a caffeine high in successfully defending a claim that he intentionally ran down several pedestrians in his car
Can a caffeine high lead to temporary insanity? While I have not asked him, I suspect that toxicologists like Richard Church would opine that one is more likely to vomit than become a homicidal maniac from an extra cup of coffee or two.