‘Caffeine Insanity’ Defense to Save Man in Strangling Death of Wife?

Filed in Gather News Channel by on September 20, 2010 0 Comments

A ‘caffeine insanity’ defense for murder? It appears that a Kentucky man is likely to assert that an overdose of a caffeine mixture caused him to murder his wife by strangling, based on a state of temporary insanity.

Woody Will Smith, 33, is accused of killing his wife, Amanda Hornsby-Smith, 28, in 2009 by strangulation using a ligature.  However, Smith and his attorney plan to use a rare defense called ‘caffeine insanity‘ or temporary insanity brought on by ‘caffeine intoxication‘.

Smith’s Defense attorney, Shannon Sexton, in the ‘caffeine insanity‘ case, filed papers in court to show that they plan to support a claim that his client did not willfully kill his wife, Amanda Hornsby-Smith.  Sexton claims that Woody Will Smith took an overdose of caffeine in the days and weeks leading up to the murder of his wife, and could not have known what he was doing.  In short, Sexton claims his client had experienced a temporary loss of his mental faculties brought on by ‘caffeine insanity’.

According to USA Today, police say that on May 4, 2009, they found the body of Amanda Hornsby-Smith.  Her lifeless body lay on the floor with both her hands bound with a cord.  Police later learned that the cord used to bind her hands was the same cord used to strangle her, based on the ligature marks on her neck.

A psychologist hired as a defense expert, had a different opinion in the ‘caffeine insanity’ case.  Dr. Robert Noelker, of Williamstown, said that Smith told him that in the days and weeks leading up to his wife’s death, he had been ingesting dangerous levels of caffeine such as coffee, sodas, and diet pills.  Smith said that he had a fear his wife would take his children away from him should he fall asleep.

Smith said that he remembers sleeping very little on the day of May 4, 2009.  He picked up one kid from school, and managed a short nap before picking up the other kid later in the day.  He then went to his parents home, and complained of feeling “out of control”. At that point, and as part of his ‘caffeine insanity’ defense, he said, “I think my wife is dead.”

A professor of behavioral biology at Johns Hopkins University Medical School said that in order to quality as ‘caffeine insanity’, one must present with the tell-tale signs. ‘Caffeine intoxication‘ usually presents with a person who is very nervous, excited, suffering from insomnia, and who is incoherent.

According to Woody Will Smith’s attorney, he presented with all the obvious signs of an amphetamine overdose.  Sexton said that Smith had consumed dangerous levels of over 400mg of caffeine.  Based on the medical establishment, an overdose of caffeine is ingestion of over 300mg.

Prosecutors in the case strongly push back on the ‘caffeine insanity’ defense, saying that it is illogical and without merit.  They move that this line of defense is frivolous and part of a defense strategy designed to exonerate Woody Will Smith by any means necessary, according to WHSV.

However, defense attorney’s plan to use ‘caffeine insanity’ as their primary defense in the murder case involving Woody Will Smith.

The trial is scheduled to begin on Monday.

Is the seldom-used ‘caffeine insanity’ defense likely to prevail, or it is just a part of the legal jostling that goes along with defending a client?  Does the fact that intent may or may not be at issue give rise to the use and weight of a ‘temporary insanity’ defense? What responsibility does a person have in preventing any possibilities of ‘caffeine intoxication’ that could, as in this case, lead to a loss of life?

©2010 by Brad Bechler for Gather.com, All rights reserved

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