Monday, September 20, 2010
"The Caffeine Made Me Do It"
This is Jim Hannah's account at NYK.com:
"The trial of a man whose lawyer has fought to be allowed to claim his client strangled his wife during a sleep-deprived bout of insanity brought on by caffeine starts Monday in Campbell Circuit Court. Woody Will Smith, 33, of Dayton, faces up to life in prison if found guilty of murder for using an extension cord to strangle Amanda Hornsby-Smith, 28, in May 2009 at the couple's home.
The trial is expected to last through the week in Judge Julie Reinhardt Ward's courtroom. It was delayed in July after Commonwealth's Attorney Michelle Snodgrass asked for time to test the chemical makeup of caffeine-laced diet pills and the energy drink No Fear the defendant claimed he had taken in the days leading up to the killing. The results of those tests have not been entered into the public record. Smith's attorney, Shannon Sexton, asked the judge to allow him to use the items as evidence to support a mental-illness defense.
A psychological evaluation by the defense concluded that Smith was not criminally responsible for the killing. Psychologist Robert Noelker of Williamstown said Smith suffered from a brief psychotic disorder based on lack of sleep caused by consumption of high levels of caffeine, ephedra or amphetamine-type substances.
Noelker's diagnosis was based on Smith's claims that he consumed the pills and drinks in the days leading up to the killing. Sexton said Smith was consuming the pills and drinks to avoid falling asleep because he feared his wife would leave him during the night and take their two children. Smith thought his wife was having an affair, according to court records. Smith went so far as to ask his stepfather if he could have his children implanted with computer chips as a way of tracking them, according to court records.
'This dissociative belief and intense paranoid delusions are the direct result of the ingestion of large amounts of caffeine and diet pills,' Noelker wrote in his report. He said his conclusion is supported by an extensive amount of clinical and research literature of the effects of sleeplessness on cognition, memory, judgment and insight.
'Mr. Smith was exquisitely vulnerable to development of the brief psychosis given his sleep deprivation and the cognitive effects brought about by Ephedra, caffeine, and other diet aids that he ingested in the two- to four-week period prior to the lethal assault of his wife,' Noelker wrote.
Snodgrass, who is prosecuting the case herself, didn't publicly comment on the case but in hearings that she is prepared to call her own expert witness to say there is no evidence to support Smith's claims he took the substances. Smith tested negative for any amphetamine-type substances in the hours after the killing, Snodgrass said at a hearing. An autopsy report, however, shows the substances were present in Hornsby-Smith's body.
'For all we know, the diet pills could have been hers,' Snodgrass said in court."
I survived the Yom Kippur fast, but maybe the worst part was the caffeine deprivation.