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. Mike

    Did somebody FORCE him to ingest coffee?

    The Democrats are the party of welfare dwellers, illegal aliens, taxes (never met a tax or illegal alien they didn't like), protectors of the rights of criminals instead of their victims, the lazy, druggies, Wall Street, Union thugs, ambulance chasing lawyers, etc.

    September 20, 2010 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ben Alcobra

      Wrong question, Mike. Try reading the article to see what he actually ingested and what else was going on with him. Now, let's see... Republicans are the party of rich welfare cheats (remember Ed Brooke?), anti-immigration (except for their ancestors of course), big spending without revenue, jailers of the victims instead of the criminals, the lazy (? Why not? You used it), protectors of the rich prescription druggies (remember Rush Limbaugh?), Wall Street (the big guys are all rich republicans, Mikey. Gotta protect 'em, right?), defenders of the anti-union, overpaid CEO thugs (also republicans), rich employers of the ambulance-chasing lawyers (that's right, Mikey. The health insurance republicans and ambulance-chasing lawyers all do business together, like old war buddies. Why not, Mikey? It's free enterprise!).

      There! I've always wanted to be someone like you, Mikey! Now can I? Huh? Can I Mikey?

      Mikey won't let me. He hates EBBERY TING!

      The Democrats are the party of welfare dwellers, illegal aliens, taxes (never met a tax or illegal alien they didn't like), protectors of the rights of criminals instead of their victims, the lazy, druggies, Wall Street, Union thugs, ambulance chasing lawyers, etc.

      September 21, 2010 at 1:30 am | Report abuse |
  2. Beavis


    September 21, 2010 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
  3. Butthead

    Shut up, Beavis! This dude may get away with murder, but you never will!

    September 21, 2010 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
  4. Name*Jeff K

    I once ate a whole box of Twinkies and drank 4 Red Bulls with 2 "5 hour" energy shots, I actually thought I was a neurosurgeon and was able to perform a surgery on my self by simply squeezing a blackhead and than used Sea Breaze as an anasephtic cleanser, damn I'm good, thanks

    September 21, 2010 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
  5. Aaron

    As a Kentuckian any talk of puritanical beliefs need to be addressed towards the fact that there are way too many counties in KY where you can't buy beer or liquor. This guy's defense does sound pretty shaky but between the sleep deprivation and those diet pills anything is possible.

    September 21, 2010 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
  6. Kevin

    Caffeine is a mind altering drug.

    September 21, 2010 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
  7. Aaron

    No Fear energy drinks? At least drink Rockstar dude

    September 21, 2010 at 12:49 am | Report abuse |
  8. TRey

    More minorities should get lawyers to use this defense.....then the world would TRULY see how ridiculous it is....Hey, it worked for OJ.....

    September 21, 2010 at 1:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Jennifer C.

      What worked for OJ was careful selection of low-IQ jurors by his attorneys, combined with playing the race card–and research at the University of Chicago also suggests that a well-groomed and attractive male is difficult to convict in a jury trial.

      September 21, 2010 at 5:58 am | Report abuse |
  9. Lawtoad

    I'm wondering if they will try to suggest Starbucks is a co-conspirator? Maybe Juan Valdez? You really are grasping a straws for this kind of defense. I'm guessing they have nothing else to argue.

    September 21, 2010 at 1:49 am | Report abuse |
  10. okay

    Coffee anyone ?

    September 21, 2010 at 2:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Jennifer C.

      I believe I will. Think about it–with all the coffee people have drunk for hundreds of years in soul-numbing workplaces with evil bosses, I'd have thought this would have been a frequent occurrence. Oh, well, guess it's just cold-blooded murder.

      September 21, 2010 at 5:54 am | Report abuse |
  11. okay

    Just made a fresh pot

    September 21, 2010 at 2:07 am | Report abuse |
  12. Bobbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb

    So this genius is telling we the people that he did not kill this woman???? I bet he could not answer that question with out stuttering and stammering....What a fool but you must admit at least he is trying to survive at at all costs as most of us merely exist, sometimes.

    September 21, 2010 at 2:10 am | Report abuse |
  13. okay

    OMG..i think my extension cord is talking to me

    September 21, 2010 at 2:10 am | Report abuse |
  14. okay

    Uh OH..i think i did something naughty

    September 21, 2010 at 2:13 am | Report abuse |
  15. okay

    I didn't do it i was Juan Valdez and that crazy donkey of his..they just have No Fear

    September 21, 2010 at 2:16 am | Report abuse |
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