That’s what one man is saying in one of the strangest trials of the year (maybe even the decade). When I read about it, I dug a little deeper only to find that the details of the trial were even more complicated than the claim of innocence. Here are the facts of the case (pretend you’re in the jury box):
- Woody Smith of Dayton, Kentucky strangled his wife to death in May of last year.
- Police records indicate that Smith learned about his wife’s extra-martial affair and confronted her just before attacking her.
- He was then hospitalized for an overdose of prescription pills.
- His defense attorneys claim the violence occurred due to insanity brought on by lack of sleep, as Smith was allegedly having trouble sleeping because he was worried that his wife would leave him.
- According to his lawyers, Smith was taking caffeine pills and drinking energy drinks to get him through the day.
From my standpoint there are two questions to address here:
- Can you really become psychotic or delusional from sleep deprivation?
- How can caffeine or energy drinks play into one’s propensity to kill another human being?
First, sleep deprivation itself can indeed impair someone’s judgment and ability to think clearly but that doesn’t necessarily lead to committing a murder.
Second, it doesn’t surprise me to learn that perpetrators of crimes have laid blame on lots of things to justify claims of insanity. And when used in an over dosage situation caffeine can produce paranoid, delusional behavior. While I do not know all of the specifics of this case, I would find it hard to believe that the “Red Bull” made him do it.
And you might recall me blogging about the story of Kenneth Parks, who killed his mother-in-law while he was sleepwalking. He was found not guilty, but then again…it’s not the same as killing someone while wide awake.
Though for someone like Mr. Smith, he’s facing the possibility of a life sentence that no amount of restful sleep can take away. We’ll have to see what happens here.
Michael J. Breus, PhD
The Sleep Doctor™