A Kentucky man accused of murdering his wife reportedly notified the court that he would defend himself by claiming that a high caffeine intake, from soft drinks, energy drinks and diet pills, made him temporarily insane and unable to form the requisite criminal intent to kill his wife. During opening statements, however, his attorney apparently stated that Woody Will Smith did not murder his wife, but provided a false confession to police because of high stress from large amounts of caffeine and a lack of sleep.

According to news sources, the caffeine defense has been used before and was successful in the case of an Idaho man who allegedly injured two pedestrians with a car. A judge reportedly concluded that this man could not form the mental intent to commit the crime after consuming two large cups of coffee following a restless night and weeks of hard work. Experts have indicated that too much caffeine can have negative effects on the body, and the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders classifies “caffeine intoxication” as one of four valid caffeine-induced mental disorders.

Still, prosecutors reportedly intend to portray Smith as an angry man who attacked his wife during a fight and that witnesses who saw him after the killing did not see any sign of insanity or temporary psychosis. Prosecutors have also indicated that there is no evidence he had taken diet drugs or consumed energy drinks before his wife died. Smith allegedly tested negative for amphetamine-type substances shortly after the murder. See Yahoo! News and The Associated Press, September 20, 2010; MSNBC.com and Time, September 21, 2010.

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For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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