A Kentucky man is set to plead the Caffeine Defense in the May 2009 death of his wife, Amanda Hornsby-Smith.
Woody Will Smith (more stiff than regular Will Smith) claims he was hopped up on sodas, energy drinks, and diet pills, and that in his state of caffeine overdose caused him to be insane at the time, incapable of forming the requisite intent to kill.
Smith says that he was consuming five or six soft drinks or energy drinks a day, along with diet pills, and these amounted to over 400 mg of caffeine per day, enough to cause a psychotic caffeine overdose. I don’t buy it. That’s basically the same level of energy enhancement you see in a six year old after only two soft drinks. But, that only drives you to want to kill the kid, not for the kid himself to kill.
But, Smith may have some luck. The caffeine defense was used once before to clear Daniel Noble of charges for running down two people with his car. Though, that case was in Washington, so it won’t have much value as precedent. Smith may also have the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders on his side. The DSM puts the caffeine overdose threshold at, get this, 300 mg. That’s less than the 330mg in a grande coffee from Starbuck’s.
If this defense works, partners, lock your doors, every associate attorney in the country is scouring their office for anything that might be used as a weapon. [And here's a hint for them: your letter opener may look like a natural choice, but consider that the handles on your scissors make them easier to grip. With scissors you can put more force behind your stab, and more easily pull the scissors out to stab again. If you prefer a bit more finesse, a retractable badge holder can be used as a garrote. My firm used to give out ones with metal wires. Sort of asking for it, I say.]
Smith may have one last, and actually pretty reasonable, trick up his sleeve. Dr. Robert Noelker is expected to be called as a witness in the case, and in a report filed in Smith’s case he stated,
It is my opinion that this disorder was the direct result of psychosis due to severe insomnia.
While “the caffeine made me crazy” argument is pretty hard to swallow, insomnia has a much better track record of causing people to lose their minds. Hopefully the defense will be smart enough to have a different psychiatrist testify about the caffeine-crazies, so they don’t destroy the credibility of Dr. Noelker. Or, you know, hopefully the opposite, if you think he should be found guilty.