September 20th, 2010
01:39 PM ET

Murder defense: Too much caffeine

Can too much caffeine make you insane - and mentally unstable enough to unknowingly kill someone?

That's a question a Newport, Kentucky, jury will have to answer when they eventually deliberate in the trial of a man whose lawyer is expected to claim that too much soda, caffeine-laced diet pills and the energy drink No Fear - combined with sleep deprivation - meant he had no idea what he was doing when he killed his wife.

Woody Will Smith's murder trial begins Monday, and according to the Kentucky Enquirer, Smith's lawyer will argue that the combination of all that caffeine was responsible for the death of his wife.

Amanda Hornsby-Smith was strangled with an extension cord in 2009 - and now Smith is facing life in prison if he is found guilty of murdering his wife in their home.

Defense attorneys are expected to focus on a psychological evaluation conducted by an expert that determined Smith couldn't be criminally responsible for the murder because he was suffering a temporary psychotic disorder based on the lack of sleep and use of amphetamine and caffeine products, the Enquirer reported.

"This dissociative belief and intense paranoid delusions are the direct result of the ingestion of large amounts of caffeine and diet pills,"a psychologist wrote in his report, according to the paper.

The prosecutor is expected to call her own witness, the paper said, who will refute the entire argument.

It's not the first time a caffeine-induced defense has been heard in a courtroom. Last year a Whitman County judge dropped charges against Daniel Noble, who blamed too much caffeine as the reason he lost control of his car and hit someone on the Washington State University-Pullman campus. The accident didn't kill the victim, but did cause nerve damage and several broken bones.

The judge made the ruling after hearing testimony from several medical experts - but Noble also had been diagnosed as bi-polar. However, as part of the ruling, the judge made it a condition that Noble not be allowed to consume caffeine.

soundoff (295 Responses)
  1. Troy from S'port

    This is why we need to require people who wish to purchase energy drinks to obtain a permit and go through a background check with a waiting period.

    September 20, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Hicktown

    Woody Will?? haha.

    September 20, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. whodatwhoder

    combined with sleep deprivation – meant he had no idea what he was doing when he killed his girlfriend.

    Woody Will Smith's murder trial begins Monday, and according to the Kentucky Enquirer, Smith's lawyer will argue that the combination of all that caffeine was responsible for the death of his wife.

    So did he kill his girlfriend or wife or both??

    September 20, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hicktown

      I know, right? You would think someone would have caught that.

      September 20, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • mitchncincy

      The local news here in Cincinnati is reporting that it was his wife.

      September 20, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Deucecoupe

    I am Cornolio, I need TP for my Bunghole. Are you threatening me. I will choke you. ahahahahaha what an idiot – a real life Beavis.

    September 20, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. CAFFEINEHEAD

    I'M GOING TO HAVE TO USE THIS ONE ON MY NEXT BENDER.

    September 20, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. joe

    Was he a cowboys fan

    September 20, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. d junior

    this is unheard of! Now they re gonna start bringing up old murder cases and say caffeine and lack of sleep might of played a role. Yeah right he was aware of what he did and should pay for what he did. Its the same thing if someone gets drunk or high and kill someone.

    September 20, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. cheddarcheese

    I think he's getting a really good shot at that insanity plea.

    Affected by caffeine indeed! You killed someone, you take the responsibility. Stop giving pathetic half-witted excuses for your crimes. Shoulder the responsibility like a man.

    September 20, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Beasley

    This flimsy defense may be the only thing standing between this low life and the lethal injection needle. Unless, of course, they still use the chair. In that case, KFC may stand for Kentucky Fried Criminal.

    September 20, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  10. SusaLis

    Within a few sentences, this article says the victim was his girlfriend, then his wife. Is the writer/editor also going to have a too-much-caffeine defense?

    September 20, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. evelia

    drive him too starbuks thn coca cola company...

    September 20, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. alejo699

    Nice article. The headline pretends the man's defense is using caffeine as an excuse when the article explains that he was also on amphetamines. Neither is a defense for murder, but the headline is grossly misleading.

    September 20, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Dustin

    Caffeine makes me jittery and hyper so I limit my use of it. At some point he should have known he was on too many uppers. Its not a good defense because it doesn't work for alcohol.

    September 20, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Joe

    Next is food forced me to kill someone. Guilty and death is justified.

    September 20, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheHeyseed

      I stabbed someone with a fork one time for trying to steal my Tater-Tots

      September 20, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. DrKimble2

    It wasn't me... it was the one-armed man... with the syringe full of caffeine

    September 20, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
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