Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

State to hire a new expert in 'Red Bull defense' case

LARGO — Facing criticism from a family member, the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office has agreed to hire another expert to evaluate Stephen Coffeen, who may be found not guilty by reason of insanity of murdering his father.

The case has drawn national publicity because of a so-called Red Bull defense, but an attorney calls that issue overblown.

Coffeen, 42, who lives in California, was arrested in 2009 on a first-degree murder charge after, police said, he smothered his father in St. Petersburg. Defense attorneys hired a psychologist and two psychiatrists, who concluded Coffeen was insane at the time of the killing and unable to understand at the time his actions were wrong.

A prosecution expert reached the same conclusion, and the State Attorney's Office said it was leaning toward agreeing that Coffeen was not guilty by reason of insanity.

But Assistant State Attorney Patricia Manteiga said in court Thursday that the state would hire another expert before proceeding any further.

Lawyers say a finding of not guilty by reason of insanity is rare. It essentially requires medical experts to conclude that a person did not know right from wrong at the time of the offense. In this case, prosecutors and defense attorneys appeared to agree on the matter until Stephen Coffeen's brother, Thomas, objected.

Thomas Coffeen does not buy the argument that his brother was insane, or for that matter sleep deprived, when he killed their father. He wishes the doctors would interview him about his brother's state of mind at the time.

On Thursday, Stephen Coffeen's attorney, Peter Sartes, said hiring another doctor was an unnecessary taxpayer expense, considering that "we have four concurring opinions."

He said the process should not devolve into a "battle of the experts."

Although one doctor testifying for the defense did refer to sleep deprivation and Red Bull in the previous hearing, Sartes said Red Bull is an insignificant factor in the case. He said the experts look at all factors and use well-established medical criteria when issuing their opinions.

It may be hard to determine whether the other experts considered Red Bull a factor at all. So far, no formal evaluations have been put into the court file. When they are, Circuit Judge Nancy Moate Ley said Thursday, they will be sealed, as is standard.

Another hearing has been scheduled for March 31.

State to hire a new expert in 'Red Bull defense' case 02/17/11 [Last modified: Thursday, February 17, 2011 9:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Deadliest Catch' captain talks reality TV, Snoop Dogg and Tampa Bay

    Outdoors

    Keith Colburn is best known as captain of the Wizard on the Discovery Network series Deadliest Catch. Colburn and crew go to battle in the Bering Sea working one of the deadliest jobs in America. A seasoned veteran, Keith has filmed 11 seasons of the show and is still going strong with his relief captain …

    Captain Keith Colburn is seen in this undated photo courtesy of the Discovery Channel. Courtesy of the Discovery Channel
  2. Police: Video shows teens watching, laughing as man drowns

    Accidents

    COCOA — Authorities in Florida say a group of teens watched and laughed as a man drowned in a retention pond last week.

    Jamel Dunn drowned in a retention pond in the city of Cocoa on July 9. Cocoa police say they later discovered a group of teens recorded the 31-year-old's drowning on video. [Florida Today]
  3. As Rubio avoids public settings on health care, disabled Tampa man's story gets attention

    Blogs

    Michael Phillips was hunting demons Monday night when the news broke: The Senate health care bill was dying.

    Michael Phillips at home in Tampa with his mother, Karen Clay
  4. Shark Week 2017: Michael Phelps races a shark and other must-see specials

    Blogs

    It's that time of year again. No, not back to school month or geek convention season -- it's Shark Week.

    For almost 30 years, Discovery Channel has brought a full week of special programs on the toothy underwater predators through Shark Week.
  5. HomeTeam 100: Players 51-60

    Footballpreps

    TAMPA - Wharton defensive back AJ Hampton will help lead the Wildcats into the 2017 season. Taken 7-6-17 by Scott Purks