Bank robber suspect blames medication

Monday, Jan. 23, 2012 11:05 AM
Last updated 2:06 PM
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The lawyer for a man accused of a 2010 bank robbery plans to raise the defense at trial that Feliz Vega Jr.’s medication inhibited his ability to distinguish right from wrong.



In a status conference Monday that replaced the scheduled trial, Peter Johnson said he would be calling expert witnesses to prove Vega was mentally incompetent at the time of the robbery.

“What was working on him was negating any ability to form criminal intent,” said Johnson, referring to Vega’s anti-depressant drug Paxil.

But Assistant District Attorney Hank Syms waved away any claims of “involuntary intoxication,” telling Superior Court Sheryl Jolly he would object to any witness testimony that did not directly reflect on Vega’s state of mind when he entered the Bank of America at 1740 Gordon Highway on July 30, 2010.

He warned that he would be recommending the maximum sentence of four consecutive life sentences plus five years if Vega was convicted at trial in early February. Vega is charged with four counts of armed robbery and fleeing and attempting to elude.

Syms said that about a third of clients that make guilty pleas in court say they are on some form of medication. But Syms said this is the first time he’s heard this medication defense because most attorneys know better than to try it.

“What we have with this charade about ‘Paxil made him do it’ is the opposite of taking responsibility,” Syms said.

Syms said that Vega entered through the rear door of the bank about 5 p.m. wearing a ball cap, ski mask and batting gloves. He pointed a paintball gun at four tellers and told them to place cash in a multi-colored happy birthday bag, Syms said.

Vega escaped with almost $12,000 in cash, but one of the tellers had placed a satellite tracking device in the bag that led deputies to his location near Central Avenue. Vega led deputies on a high-speed chase for several blocks before crashing into a fence and a parked car on Starnes Street, Syms said.

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ANGEL
0
Points
ANGEL 01/23/12 - 12:26 pm
0
0
Good Job Hank Syms, Paxil

Good Job Hank Syms, Paxil does not cause you to do something like this!

kiwiinamerica
950
Points
kiwiinamerica 01/23/12 - 12:49 pm
0
0
So....uh.....if it's all
Unpublished

So....uh.....if it's all Paxil's fault, then Paxil patients should be sticking up banks all over the country, right? Does it say on the label of the pill container ...." do not take this medication if you are in financial difficulty, looking to score some easy money or have ever fantasized about robbing a bank"??

Er.........no.

Sorry, Mr. Johnson. No sale.

gailkaitschuck
18
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gailkaitschuck 01/23/12 - 12:54 pm
0
0
Since first approved in 1993,

Since first approved in 1993, over 70 million prescriptions for Paxil have been filled.
Do we now need to worry that all 70 million users will drink booze, attempt to rob banks, elude police officers and crash into neighborhood fences? Kinda grasping at straws, aren't you Peter Johnson??

farrowtrent
0
Points
farrowtrent 01/23/12 - 01:37 pm
0
0
seriously??

seriously??

Willow Bailey
20603
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Willow Bailey 01/23/12 - 02:04 pm
0
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Complete BS. When has being

Complete BS. When has being "intoxicated" been an acceptable defense?

Cynical old woman
1111
Points
Cynical old woman 01/23/12 - 02:19 pm
0
0
Love it! Intoxication is now

Love it! Intoxication is now an acceptable defense for bank robbery....would it also work for DUI? Sorry, officer, I realize I'm driving drunk but I'm intoxicated.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 01/23/12 - 05:19 pm
0
0
I believe this defense about

I believe this defense about as much as I believe we know enough about half the drugs, including Paxil, that Dr's prescribe to folks. Yeah this country is over-medicated.

Conservative Man
5577
Points
Conservative Man 01/23/12 - 05:27 pm
0
0
To paraphrase

To paraphrase Geraldine..."The devil made him do it."
And if you know who Geraldine is, you're showing your age :)

raul
5321
Points
raul 01/23/12 - 05:42 pm
0
0
Using that lame defense will

Using that lame defense will probably get Mr. Johnson's client the max based on his wasting the Judge's time.

david jennings
624
Points
david jennings 01/23/12 - 06:58 pm
0
0
Armed robbery? No mercy. the

Armed robbery? No mercy. the defense is being ridiculous.

minder
6
Points
minder 01/23/12 - 07:26 pm
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PAXIL® [paroxetine]

PAXIL® [paroxetine] PRESCRIBING INFORMATION:

All patients being treated with antidepressants for any indication should be monitored appropriately and observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, and unusual changes in behavior, especially during the initial few months of a course of drug therapy, or at times of dose changes, either increases or decreases.

The following symptoms, anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, impulsivity, akathisia (psychomotor restlessness), hypomania, and mania, have been reported in adult and pediatric patients being treated with antidepressants for major depressive disorder as well as for other indications, both psychiatric and nonpsychiatric.

PRECAUTIONS:

General: Activation of Mania/Hypomania:

During premarketing testing, hypomania or mania occurred in approximately 1.0% of unipolar patients treated with PAXIL compared to 1.1% of active-control and 0.3% of placebo-treated unipolar patients.

In a subset of patients classified as bipolar, the rate of manic episodes was 2.2% for PAXIL and 11.6% for the combined active-control groups.

As with all drugs effective in the treatment of major depressive disorder, PAXIL should be used cautiously in patients with a history of mania.

Conservative Man
5577
Points
Conservative Man 01/23/12 - 08:00 pm
0
0
I'm reminded of a verse from

I'm reminded of a verse from a country song by Uknown Hinson...
He's a campy songwriter from Charlotte N.C.In one of his songs the main character explains to the cops who have arrested him for killing his wife....."I'm an alcoholic, and that's a disease. So it ain't my fault. Right?"
Think about it...

minder
6
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minder 01/23/12 - 08:14 pm
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0
Updated: August 29, 2006,

Updated: August 29, 2006, 2:59 AM ET

Judge finds Reardon not guilty on robbery charge

ESPN.com news services

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Former All-Star relief pitcher Jeff Reardon was found not guilty by reason of insanity Monday for robbing a jewelry store in December.

Two court-appointed psychiatrists, along with two defense psychiatrists, testified that Reardon was under the influence of a dozen prescription medications and that there was no reasonable explanation for the robbery.

Reardon's attorney said the 50-year-old Reardon, who pitched for seven major league teams from 1979-94 and won a World Series with the Minnesota Twins in 1987, was distraught over the 2004 overdose death of a son and had been taking anti-depressants and mood stabilizers, two Florida newspapers reported.

The medications reacted and caused Reardon to exhibit emotionally unstable, hostile and manic behavior, his defense attorney, Mitch Beers, said.

"He did not know what he was doing," Beers said. "He was very, very depressed and very suicidal. The medications caused him to be delirious and to hallucinate."

Reardon was taking the medications because he was distraught over his 20-year-old son's death, his attorneys said. According to the Palm Beach Post, Reardon contemplated buying a gun, then a knife, to kill himself after his son died. He also considered going to Beeline Highway and stepping in front of a passing truck, the Post reported.

After Judge Stephen Rapp's ruling was announced on Monday, Reardon said he was relieved and that he had been worried about going to jail.

"I don't think I've ever had a speeding ticket before, for crying out loud," Reardon said.

Reardon walked into Hamilton Jewelers in Palm Beach Gardens and handed an employee a note saying he had a gun and the store was being robbed. He fled with an undisclosed amount of money.

Reardon, who retired in 1994 and ranks sixth in career saves, made more than $11.5 million during his career, according to baseballreference.com. His attorneys said he was not having financial problems.

The four-time All-Star was 73-77 with 367 saves and a 3.16 ERA in 16 seasons with the New York Mets, Montreal Expos, Minnesota Twins, Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds and New York Yankees.

Reardon had a save in the Twins' 1987 World Series victory over St. Louis. But five years later, he gave up a decisive two-run homer to Toronto's Ed Sprague in the ninth inning, allowing the Blue Jays to tie Atlanta at one game apiece. Toronto eventually won the 1992 World Series in six games.

iyanaa
0
Points
iyanaa 01/23/12 - 08:58 pm
0
0
Court Finds Prozac and Xanax

Court Finds Prozac and Xanax Cause Criminal Conduct

On February 24, 2000 Connecticut Superior Court Judge J. Arnold acquitted Christopher DeAngelo of first-degree robbery on the grounds that the defendant lacked substantial capacity as a result of mental disease or defect, and was unable to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct or to control his conduct within the requirements of the law. Mr. Angelo had been taking a tranquilizer, Xanax, and an antidepressant, Prozac.

Over a period of a few days, Mr. DeAngelo had committed several robberies. In one bizarre episode, he robbed his wife's bank while disguised with nothing more than a fake mustache. He was also driving his easily identifiable vintage automobile. He walked past a cordon of police with guns drawn as he left the bank and fled amid a hail of bullets.

Mr. DeAngelo had no prior history of any criminal or aggressive activities, and was considered a very responsible individual by co-workers, friends, and family. There was no apparent financial motivation, since he was doing well economically and had many resources within his family. Everyone who knew him was shocked by his behavior while taking Xanax and Prozac.

The judge specifically attributed Mr. DeAngelo's impaired state to his prescribed Xanax and Prozac. In coming to his decision, the judge quoted at length from a report that was written by psychiatrist Peter R. Breggin, M.D. Dr. Breggin presented scientific evidence concerning disinhibition (paradoxical behavior) and mania induced by the Xanax (alprazolam) and Prozac (fluoxetine). The judge quoted Dr. Breggin's observations concerning drug-induced disinhibition and mania. Dr. Breggin wrote, "Both syndromes are characterized by lack of self-control, judgment, and insight." He pointed out, "Both can cause or include out-of-character, irrational, senseless, impulsive, bizarre and destructive behavior," and "they can produce criminal actions that make no sense in terms of the individual's self-interest, and which are bound to be discovered." Dr. Breggin also described how the defendant's increased alcohol consumption was probably related to the psychiatric drugs. Dr. Breggin concluded that if the defendant had not been prescribed Prozac and Xanax, "he would almost certainly never have committed these crimes."

iyanaa
0
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iyanaa 01/23/12 - 09:01 pm
0
0
2010 Georgia Code TITLE 16 -

2010 Georgia Code
TITLE 16 - CRIMES AND OFFENSES
CHAPTER 3 - DEFENSES TO CRIMINAL PROSECUTIONS
ARTICLE 1 - RESPONSIBILITY
§ 16-3-4 - Intoxication
Share | O.C.G.A. 16-3-4 (2010)
16-3-4. Intoxication

(a) A person shall not be found guilty of a crime when, at the time of the act, omission, or negligence constituting the crime, the person, because of involuntary intoxication, did not have sufficient mental capacity to distinguish between right and wrong in relation to such act.

(b) Involuntary intoxication means intoxication caused by:

(1) Consumption of a substance through excusable ignorance; or

(2) The coercion, fraud, artifice, or contrivance of another person.

KNOW YOUR FACTS PEOPLE BEFORE YOU JUDGE!!!

Pu239
284
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Pu239 01/23/12 - 09:30 pm
0
0
Let the barrister games
Unpublished

Let the barrister games begin!

Willow Bailey
20603
Points
Willow Bailey 01/23/12 - 10:13 pm
0
0
And let the new excuses begin

And let the new excuses begin for committing crimes. Even three sheets in the wind, an honest person doesn't commit armed robbery or any other crime while intoxicated with some exceptions made for dui's/conduct issues. I certainly hope this man is convicted of his crime. Poor, poor, Paxil victims.

kiwiinamerica
950
Points
kiwiinamerica 01/24/12 - 12:27 am
0
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@minder In other words, the
Unpublished

@minder

In other words, the frequency of "manic episodes" in Paxil treated depression sufferers was not significantly higher than controls.

@iyanaa.

The statistics on Paxil side effects indicate that the "involuntary intoxication" defense doesn't have a prayer. There are hard numbers generated from clinical trials on the frequency of these effects and they are vanishingly small and not statistically different from controls.

As for being "mentally incompetent", he ran from the cops. Big mistake. That's prima facie evidence that he KNEW he'd committed a crime. If he was truly mentally incompetent and was unaware of the difference between right and wrong, the presence of law enforcement would not have triggered the escape reflex.

Nice try.

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 01/24/12 - 03:35 am
0
0
Comic Flip Wilson's Geraldine

Comic Flip Wilson's Geraldine used to blame the Devil for her misdeeds. Both excuses are equally specious.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 01/24/12 - 09:46 am
0
0
I suppose the law should read

I suppose the law should read " anyone with the coordination and mental capacity to pull off a felonius crime cannot arguably be so incapacitated as to not realize they are committing a felonius crime."

Makes better sense.

Willow Bailey
20603
Points
Willow Bailey 01/24/12 - 11:13 am
0
0
I hope toxicology can

I hope toxicology can differentiate between Paxil taken correctly as directed by a written prescription and Paxil with alcohol added to the mix as clearly prohibited by the warning labels.

itsanotherday1
45345
Points
itsanotherday1 01/24/12 - 11:27 am
0
0
Willow, it can be

Willow, it can be differentiated. A tox analysis will reveal every foreign substance in your blood/urine.

itsanotherday1
45345
Points
itsanotherday1 01/24/12 - 01:52 pm
0
0
"WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. --

"WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Former All-Star relief pitcher Jeff Reardon was found not guilty by reason of insanity Monday for robbing a jewelry store in December.

Two court-appointed psychiatrists, along with two defense psychiatrists, testified that Reardon was under the influence of a dozen prescription medications and that there was no reasonable explanation for the robbery."

Reardon's situation is is a little different in that there was no rational reason for him to rob a bank. He didn't need the money, notoriety, or anything that would come with such an act. He was suicidal at some point, but robbing a bank doesn't get you dead.
Nothing but mental incapacity makes any sense at all.

panamagold08
0
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panamagold08 01/25/12 - 02:47 pm
0
0
its so funny that people pass

its so funny that people pass judgment and no nothing about the case there are to sides to every story. Paxill affects everyone differently so unless you have been on this medication or someone you know has been affected you know know nothing about it.. Might I add you have to be prescribed paxill so its not like you can buy it at the corner store.. So obviously there was or is a reason that the young man was on the medication in the first place. The reporter who wrote this article is only sharing one side of the story... And 3 life consecutive sentences just sounds ridiculous. Sex offenders get less time than that for the horrible crimes that they commit. Our legal system here is a joke. All theses Lawyers wanna get paid but dont wanna do there job.... Innocent until proven guilty.. We do still live in AMERICA dont we...

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