A Florida man has been found not guilty by reason of insanity after four expert witnesses testified that the defendant, who consumed Red Bull before killing his elderly father, was legally insane at the time he committed the crime.
Instead of going to jail, Stephen Coffeen will instead be sent to a mental hospital in Chattahoochee where he will be evaluated. He could be set free in as early as six months if he is found to be mentally healthy at that time.
Coffeen, 42, was accused of suffocating his father, Robert Coffeen, 83, with a couch cushion in 2009. Coffeen confessed to the crime and initially claimed self-defense.
Tampa-based WTSP News reported that four doctors agreed that Coffeen had lost touch with reality and was legally insane when he killed his father. Two of the doctors were hired by the defense and two by the prosecution. According to the St. Petersburg Times, one expert testified in a court hearing that Coffeen suffered from sleep deprivation and consumed a lot of Red Bull, which became known as the Red Bull Defense.
But Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Nancy Moate Ley said this case is not and never has been about Red Bull.
Judge Ley said she was compelled by law to accept the deal worked out between Coffeen's lawyers and the State Attorney's Office. She ruled that Coffeen did not understand the wrongfulness of his actions but indicated that it was not an easy call.
I have spent many many hours on this case. Reviewing it, thinking about it, considering it, looking at case law. And I have determined that I have no choice, because it is also my duty to follow the law, Ley said.
Thomas Coffeen, brother of the accused and son of the victim, objected to the decision, believing that his brother knew what he was doing.
He got away with murder, Thomas Coffeen told St. Petersburg Times, expressing his wish that the case go to a jury trial.
Let 12 Floridians make the decision, not four 'experts.'