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Ky. Jury Quickly Rejects Sleep-Deprivation aka ‘Caffeine’ Defense

Posted Sep 28, 2010 6:00 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A Kentucky jury deliberated for only 90 minutes on Friday before convicting a murder defendant who had claimed he suffered from a sleep-deprived psychosis that made him falsely confess to killing his wife.

Jurors in Campbell County recommended a life sentence for the defendant, Woody Will Smith, Cincinnati.com and the Associated Press report. The story headlines describe Smith’s legal arguments as a caffeine defense, although that tack was apparently abandoned at trial, according to earlier reports.

Smith’s lawyer had suggested in court documents before trial that his client had ingested massive amounts of caffeine, resulting in an overdose that stoked sleeplessness and insanity. At trial, the defense tweaked the legal theory, emphasizing the sleep deprivation rather than the caffeine overdose, arguing that a lack of sleep caused delusions that spurred Smith’s confession.

Prosecutor Michelle Snodgrass rejected that argument, Cincinnati.com reports. “The only delusion presented in this courtroom ... was the statement the defendant was delusional,” she argued.

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