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Opening Arguments

Awake or sleeping

I think there have probably been times when, numbed with fatigue, I have said something like, "Man, I'd kill for a cup of good coffee right now." But I really didn't mean it -- honest:

A Kentucky man accused of strangling his wife is poised to claim excessive caffeine from sodas, energy drinks and diet pills left him so mentally unstable he couldn't have knowingly killed her, his lawyer has notified a court.

Woody Will Smith, 33, is scheduled for trial starting Monday on a murder charge in the May 2009 death of Amanda Hornsby-Smith, 28.

Defense attorney Shannon Sexton filed notice with the Newport court of plans to argue his client ingested so much caffeine in the days leading up to the killing that it rendered him temporarily insane — unable even to form the intent of committing a crime.

This is just more unmitigated crap from the "nobody is responsible for anything" school of criminal justice. But it's interesting for its very brazenness and the wide-eyed credulousness with which the reporter goes along. It is dutifully reported that one guy made this defense work -- yes, one guy got away with it, so it must be valid! -- and that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders "defines overdose as more than 300 mg. That's about three cups of coffee." Three cups of coffee is an overdose? That means I've been overdosed -- and then some -- on caffeine almost every single day of my life since I was a teenager. So don't blame me for  a single thing I ever did -- it wasn't my fault; I was just a victim of "caffeine intoxication."

Meanwhile, from another part of the heartland, we learn that it's true that anything can kill you. Two students at Grace College in Winona Lake were sitting on a hammock, and:

. . . the hammock was strung between two trees, one of which was rotten at the base and collapsed.

One of the students died, and the other was brought to a Fort Wayne hospital. What are the odds on one of your hammock trees being rotten? Even resting can kill you, so best have a cup of coffee to stay alert, or even two. Better stop after that, though.


tim zank
Mon, 09/20/2010 - 3:03pm

Well, obviously the poor soul in the hammock wasn't wearing a "hammock helmut". I smell legislation in the offing. As for the coffee, it's probably McDonalds fault for not having a clear disclaimer on their cups warning that consumption of caffeine can cause you to become "nucking futz".

Where are our legislators? Does no one care? My Gawd, the humanity.........

Lewis Allen
Mon, 09/20/2010 - 6:18pm

My heart aches for the friends and family of the girl who died in that terrible accident.

As for the caffeine defense, good luck with that one. Although there's a common belief that criminals often get off on an insanity defense, the truth is that it's attempted rarely (less than one percent of court cases) and succeeds even more rarely (26%).