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. jeannette

    Wasn't there a "twinkie" defense some years back? That went no where as I'm sure this one will. Same old story. It's not what I did but how can I get away with it?

    September 21, 2010 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  2. recovering Caff Junkie

    Right. My name says it all. I guarantee I have consumed way more caffeine than this guy ever did at any one time. I didnt go murder any one. I was a raging caff junkie for 10 years drinking several of the strongest energy drinks I could find every day. Red Bull did nothing to me. No way did I even consider murder while 'high' on caffeine. This guy's a load crap. Take responsibility for yourself. This guy's gonna be real shocked in prison. It took me 4 weeks to quit btw. The withdrawal from that was pretty tough. Mostly for its longevity.

    September 21, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • B-Man

      Ha, try heroin withdrawal and compare that to your caffeine "addiction"

      September 21, 2010 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  3. Eli

    *Pencil tap* Let's many names can we make up for domestic violence? Crime of passion, psychological stress over the economy resulting in physical expressions of rage, my personal favorite: "deterioration of a relationship", caffeine overdose...the list goes on. Anything else? We need to call these cases as they are and maybe if the media starts labeling these stories "DV crime #1, #100, #1000..." and so on, it will raise some eyebrows.

    The evasive nature of reporting these crimes does no justice to the victims or the issue as a whole.

    September 21, 2010 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  4. JNine

    Twinkie Defense worked for Dan White... double homicide to voluntary manslaughter. Just pawn it off on depression, and he'll get the same treatment. Take responsibility for your actions.

    September 21, 2010 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  5. Mr. Boffo

    It sounds like he needs a new lawyer, if that's the best defense he can come up with.

    September 21, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. k8smommy

    This case is especially sad for me because I went to high school with this girl, sat next to her in several classes. We didn't know each other very well, ran in different circles, but still it's hard to understand why someone my age and at the same stage in life, married with 2 young children, must fall to a sensless tragedy like this. I will no doubt continue to follow this story closely and I hope that justice is served. Such a tragedy for her two young children and her entire family.

    September 21, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. tommas

    We are debating if caffeine can cause someone to kill another yet cannabis is still the "devil".

    September 21, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Nick

    I have gone with out sleep, drinking coffe, energy drinks and taking No Doze, and I haven't killed anyone. Or done anything stupid. Poor defense.

    September 21, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Semper Fi don't hide

    BS next.

    September 21, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Steve

    Sleep deprived and taking amphetamines, and the caffeine portion is what gets the focus? Unless the caffeine actually is mentioned beyond its contribution to his sleep deprivation, why is it being touted in this article as the main portion of the defense?

    September 21, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  11. D

    I bet Lindsay Lohan could slap herself because she didn't think of this excuse!

    September 21, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Becky

    Why are you asking if it was his wife or girl friend? Can you people not read? it plainly says wife at least 3 times. look again

    September 23, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Lake District Hostels

    I dont think you would get away with murdering your wife here in the UK on the grounds of drinking too much coffee, although I suppose you could mention it was not made to your liking : )

    June 28, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
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