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. kgoddess

    You MUST BE KIDDING ME! First it's the Twinkie defense, now caffeine? Give me a break here...who's idea was it anyway to take that much caffeine? Time for a little personal responsibility here. Too much caffeine my a$$

    September 20, 2010 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. nina

    there was that Seattle woman a few years back who was taking an herbal supplement – she became convinced that one of the Vancovuer Canuck hockey players was sending her telepathic messages.

    so she drove through the peace arch crossing so fast that she destroyed a car with 2 young women in it – the crash was so horrific that the Canada Customs officer who watched it, dropped dead from a heart attack

    and so did the 911 operator.

    the Seattle woman wasn't hurt and successfully defended herself and pushed responsibility onto the herbal company – as other people had had bizarre but non-fatal to others experiences on the supplement.

    there needs to be more personal responsibility, but also, looking out for each other when we start to get delusional before we get into a car with a diaper on for a long and fast drive.


    September 20, 2010 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. lala

    "temporary psychotic disorder based on the lack of sleep and use of amphetamine and caffeine products, the Enquirer reported.". I think the key word here is amphetamine people!!

    September 20, 2010 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MJB

    Yeah right!! Coke, Meth, Pot, Pills " they" made me do it. Now too much caffine. Get real! someone will so some double blind research on this dud and come up with the coffie drug..

    September 20, 2010 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
  5. phil

    Maybe he was born a murderer. The "murder gene". kinda like the gay gene except instead of sodomizing people you murder them.

    September 20, 2010 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. PDXSerric

    Coffee doesn’t kill people. People do.

    Seriously? Someone’s trying the Dan White ‘Twinkie defense’ plea?

    You know… if this guy gets off on this, women around the world now have a 5-7 day window in which to legally kill their husbands.

    September 20, 2010 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ryan

    Old news, his attorney has come out stating the whole thing is a lie.

    September 20, 2010 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  8. katiet

    The twinkie defense is getting old; when will people take responsibility for their actions?!

    September 20, 2010 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. James

    I drink several cups of coffee a day along with several cans of Red Bull to get me through the day. Sometimes due to job requirements I sleep 2 or 3 hours a day. I've also taken caffine pills on top of that to stay awake. (I know it's very bad for me) I've never had the urge to kill anyone. Straight up this guy has commited murder. Put him on death row and get it over with. What is the other option? Send him to a state sponsered "Caffine Rehab" program with weekly caffine tests? What a crock.

    September 20, 2010 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ravenne

    Okay... you don't get acquitted for murder because you were high on crack or meth or heroin – why on earth would you get acquitted because you were wacked out on caffeine? I guess this guy's lawyer was pretty desperate...

    September 20, 2010 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lawrence

      Caffeine is a legal drug and one can drive or operate heavy machinery under it's influence. Was he popping no-doz or drinking lots of coffee then why he use the caffeine/bathroom defense. "I had to pee and my nerves are on edge and she said something about water and I just lost it. I peed my pants and I had to kill her." The Caffeine/bathroom/pee pants defense.

      September 20, 2010 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. shasta marie

    Well I know for a FACT that caffiene and diet pills etc. can be a horrible mix. Many results can be possible with pyschosis being one of them which may include being delusional and haluccinating.

    September 20, 2010 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Lawrence

    It's the Java defense.

    September 20, 2010 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. GoRemote

    I would think lack of caffeine would make a much better defense.

    September 20, 2010 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. phil

    First they use the "i was born that way" defense when caught sodomizing your children...and now this. gimme a break

    September 20, 2010 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  15. christina

    Caffiene was not the only thing involved I bet on it. Most of the speed freeks (druggies) will use a mixture diet pills and energy drinks when they are comming down to keep the high up, mix that with days of no sleep and you get a real phyco. He should still get murder charges with no excuses.

    September 20, 2010 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • B-Man

      I was a long-time meth user ad I can tell you this is false info. Caffiene doesn't have any effect after you've been abusing amphetamines. No way it could keep you going.

      September 21, 2010 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
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