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.
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Sexton declined requests for comment on the defense strategy he indicated he would pursue in filings before the court. Jury selection was scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m. EDT Monday. Opening statements were expected to begin around 1:30 p.m. EDT.
A legal strategy invoking caffeine intoxication is unusual but has succeeded at least once before, in a case involving a man cleared in 2009 of charges of running down and injuring two people with a car in Washington state.
Dr. Roland Griffiths, a professor of behavioral biology at Johns Hopkins University has noted in an unrelated study that there is a diagnosis for “caffeine intoxication,” which includes nervousness, excitement, insomnia and possibly rambling speech.
Prosecutors, meanwhile, said their own expert may testify there was no evidence Smith had consumed diet pills or energy drinks as he claimed before his wife died.
Prosecutor Michelle Snodgrass said Smith tested negative for amphetamine-type substances shortly after the killing.
Police say Smith used an extension cord to strangle his wife on May 4, 2009, then used the same cord to bind her feet together. Smith then used another cord to tie his wife’s hands.
If convicted of murder, Smith could be sentenced to life in prison.