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. Tracey

    Wait, is CNN really attributing to the Enquirer now? What has journalism come to?

    September 20, 2010 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. okay

    Its all a lie..his lawyer came out and said Lady GaGa did it..

    September 20, 2010 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. bonkos man

    The same crap was tried before and was successful–belive it or not. this is nothing new. the sad thing is the fact those ignorant jurors are invading the justice system like a cancer.

    September 20, 2010 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MRB

    Make possession of caffeine punishable by death!

    September 20, 2010 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. phil

    I was born that way! I had no choice!!! Sounds like a fair defense if what you are doing is objectionable.

    September 20, 2010 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. phil

    Ignorant jurors? Might as well say ignorant Americans since jurors are selected from among them. I like blaming judges who rule for themselves without a jury. Like the judge ruling it's perfectluy legal for the NBA to order referees to fix games. How retarded is that?

    September 20, 2010 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dan

    The fact that poeple feel free to even attempt stupid defenses like this, to think that they might get away with it, shows you how criminal our judicial system has and is becoming.

    September 20, 2010 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JSP

    Bull. I drink more caffeine than God, and I've never even thought about doing anything violent while I was under its influence. This guy is a cold-blooded killer. Fry him.

    September 20, 2010 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jesse

    So i have have sleep appnea. so that mean i can kioll some one?

    September 20, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. okay


    September 20, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Betweenlines

      Maybe he sould have used Splenda instead of amphetamines to sweeten the coffee. If you choose to drink coffee and stay up all night, that's not someone elses fault...BTW CNN it wasn't just coffee (the drugs in the coffee he chose to add too).

      September 20, 2010 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  11. dwerbil

    Oh, I get it: too much George Jetson when young. Or maybe the first grade teacher frowned at him one day.
    Jesus fukking Crist.

    September 20, 2010 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. dwerbil

    Sardonic humor here...there's 500 punchline comments here on his defense.

    September 20, 2010 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JEmario

    America Runs on Dunkin

    September 20, 2010 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jon

    I can't help but think that the amphetamines and not the caffeine just might have been responsible for his temporary psychotic disorder. I noticed that the defense has kind of glazed over that key fact.

    September 20, 2010 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ernest

    Ok I consume vast amounts of caffeine myself and I have never went crazy and tried to hurt or kill anyone

    September 20, 2010 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
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