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. okay


    September 21, 2010 at 2:22 am | Report abuse |
  2. okay

    Guy was comin down..she took the last he killed her

    September 21, 2010 at 2:26 am | Report abuse |
  3. buddy

    "one paragraph says he killed is girlfriend, one says he killed his wife, so which is it?" ... Heck, it was Kentucky, it coulda been his sister! yuk yuk. (Sorry, too much caffeine makes me tell really bad jokes.)

    September 21, 2010 at 2:27 am | Report abuse |
  4. okay

    Typical tweeker...and yum on the m&m comment...true so true

    September 21, 2010 at 2:29 am | Report abuse |
  5. okay

    Hahaha..uncle dad killed his wife sister..true dat..backwood corntoothed cousin fvckers..yeeeehhhaaaawww..

    September 21, 2010 at 2:33 am | Report abuse |
    • C

      *whispers* I bet he rides his donkey on Sunday's in the drive way.

      September 21, 2010 at 2:49 am | Report abuse |
  6. okay

    Gdnite ! Now im laughing @ crappy humor...sleep deprivation is a killer

    September 21, 2010 at 2:37 am | Report abuse |
    • C

      Don't go out in ya bathrobe an start killin people now ya hear...the sleep walking defense has been used SO

      September 21, 2010 at 2:48 am | Report abuse |
  7. sdgman

    Nope.. I am proof that that is not true.

    September 21, 2010 at 3:21 am | Report abuse |
  8. what!

    how in the world could this be downed to a case of assault?? he is either a murderer or he is not guilty of his actions, its one or the other

    September 21, 2010 at 3:27 am | Report abuse |
  9. Joe

    this is typical i dont give it long with a story like this the Health nuts will try to limit caffine or ban it.

    September 21, 2010 at 3:37 am | Report abuse |
  10. Jennifer C.

    I, for one, think self-induced insanity is no excuse. And even if he was really insane without anything added, he should spend the rest of his life separated from society so he doesn't harm or kill anyone else.

    September 21, 2010 at 5:50 am | Report abuse |
  11. phil

    There are several references to the OJ Simpson case in these posts complete with intimate details. And this is OK since the topic is outlandish defense schemes. No mention here of the Clinton family land scams (aka Whitewater) trial that was going on at the same time. Can any one of you give me even one detail about Whitewater? Why not use how idiotic the Clinton land scam defense was rather than using OJ? These 'headlines" keep virtually all of US distracted so much it's alarming..

    September 21, 2010 at 7:06 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jeff

    Give him an injection of......well, not caffeine.

    September 21, 2010 at 7:11 am | Report abuse |
  13. Gerry

    I've already had 2 Red Bulls this morning. Watch out for me!

    September 21, 2010 at 7:27 am | Report abuse |
  14. Starbux

    I'm going to sue Dunkin Donuts for attempted attempted murder today after my large iced coffee...

    September 21, 2010 at 7:31 am | Report abuse |
  15. John

    Anybody who kills somebody else is mentally unstable but nothing can justify the action. Put him out of his misery with a needle in the arm.

    September 21, 2010 at 7:46 am | Report abuse |
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