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.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

What some people will do to try to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions! Just my opinion but jees!

~Jay said...

Feeling a little jittery, perhaps I will kill someone...

So should Starbucks retain a lawyer now to fend off the legal vultures?

~Jay

Video Guy said...

Take away a nicotine addicts cigarettes and some will punch you in the face.
Most people have a few drinks and feel great, others will start a fight.

Who is to say what effects any one stimulant can have on someone, we all have different tolerances for the different things we ingest as some will eat one shellfish and swell up and die. Something I cannot fathom as I love the stuff and can eat it by the wheelbarrow load…but if I have too much Coffee, I get the shakes for hours.

Thou it appears his defense is reaching for anything…we must consider that there may be something to it.

Anonymous said...

yup video guy, thought about it and chucked it away as excuse #35 for murdering one's spouse instead of getting a divorce.

Video Guy said...

Anony 1:52 PM

It says he was up all night to boot, this also would have added to his stress.

So I guess the argument would be, was he planning this murder and couldn’t sleep, than jacked himself up on caffeine to help build up the nerve to go through with the plan?

OR

Was he up all night because of other reason, maybe an argument with her, he drugs himself up with caffeine to stay awake for the chores he had to do that day. He comes home and the fight starts up again…he snaps in a fit of blind rage and chocks the life out of her for years and years of excommunication…In this case the caffeine very well could have affected his judgment.

That would be the difference between what?… Premeditated murder & manslaughter….??

The second scenario sounds more logical because of the way he did away with her, the sudden chocking the life out of a mate is usually built up rage.

Right? ??

Anonymous said...

Video Guy, thanks for your comments. Woody is only facing life in prison which implies that the State does not think it was premeditated. The trial may conclude this week.

Ginger said...

I'm just the opposite. I am absolutely insane without my first cup of coffee in the morning.

Yono Senada said...

Caffeine is only dangerous when combined with the twinkie defense.

Anonymous said...

Personally I love the twinkie defense, Yono!

Anonymous said...

A slave to the old caffeine high? a whole generation addicted to liquid speed...

SCJ said...

Even though the "coffee defense" has been dropped, this raises some very interesting questions.

The insanity defense serves a legitimate purpose: in some cases, a person can be so whacked in the head that they can't control their actions, or understand the nature of their actions. If you're in such a mental state when you engage in activity which would otherwise be criminal, it's hard to argue that you should be held as morally culpable as if you had done the same act intentionally.

After all, most crimes require an element of intent, or at least some culpable mental state (such as recklessness). If a person is so messed up in the head that they can't form the necessary intent, they should be acquitted, and possibly institutionalized.

But what if the defendant actually had a hand in causing their own insanity?

Lil Richard said...

SCJ

Excellent points. The reality is, if you voluntarily drank or took drugs with the knowledge that your judgment would be impaired, then clearly you should be held responsible for the consequences of your actions!

Anonymous said...

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Is this possible?

Anonymous said...

I didn't mean to pull the trigger but my caffeine jitters were so bad the trigger got released...

Secrets said...

LOL @ Yono

Thankfully Im allergic to caffeine.

Johnny Cochran would have to come back from the dead to get him off on that lame ass defense.

I agree with ANON...what happened to go ole divorce??? WTF??

Brenda said...

As always Secret, you are on target. Men can't handle paying a woman what she is owed so they try to murder her. Can''t let men get outta paying their obligation.

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Anonymous said...

A plug for a law firm, Santosha?