INTERVIEW: Southwest Virginia man cites steroids, Starbucks for wife's murder - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

INTERVIEW: Southwest Virginia man cites steroids, Starbucks for wife's murder

By Diane Walker - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – A southwest Virginia man says he killed his wife because he abused steroids and was addicted to Starbucks coffee. Philip Kingery pled guilty to second-degree murder in Franklin County last week. He killed his wife in May of last year, dumped her body in a barrel, and took off to meet a woman with whom he was having an online affair. Kingery was arrested a month later in Missouri. Here to talk about this strange defense strategy is our legal expert Steve Benjamin. 

Diane Walker: Why do you suppose the judge didn't buy this strange defense? He said he had a $200 a week addiction to caffeine and that combined with prescription drugs caused him to snap.

Steve Benjamin: $200 a week at Starbuck's is not all that much coffee.

Diane Walker: Okay.

Steve Benjamin: You know? And please understand, I don't think anybody asserted this as a defense. So it wasn't a question of the judge buying it or not buying it. In fact, the conviction was a result of what I think was a very good plea for the prosecution. He got a certain conviction, no appeal, and a 25-year sentence, which is essentially a life sentence for a 48-year-old man.

Diane Walker: I'm curious to know what the elements are of a diminished capacity. Obviously, perhaps he was thinking this would prove that his capacity was diminished because of his use of caffeine and drugs.

Steve Benjamin: Of coffee?

Diane Walker: But it didn't work. What do you need to prove that in court?

Steve Benjamin: Well, first, everyone should understand that the defense of diminished capacity is not a legal defense in Virginia and when I talk about diminished capacity, what I'm talking about is a person's decreased ability to appreciate or control the wrongfulness of certain conduct. But that's not a defense in Virginia, so it really doesn't matter, and in this case, I think factually, it never could have been supported. It's true, Diane, that some drugs can alter and compromise a person's ability to control dark impulses, but not caffeine. And not this type of steroid. You know, we hear times about anabolic steroids, the kind of steroids used by body-builders, for example.

Diane Walker: And that was not used here.

Steve Benjamin: No, this was an anti-inflammatory steroid and there's no increased violence associated with that kind of medication. If I had to guess, what I think may have been occurring here is that this individual who, by all accounts I've seen, was a perfectly normal fellow with no signs of violence in his life, in a horrible moment killed his wife and what I suspect he may be doing, in trying to blame caffeine and medication, is perhaps making a personal justification to himself.

Diane Walker: His way of rationalizing and accepting what he did.

Steve Benjamin: Yes, that makes a lot more sense than thinking that anybody really believes this was a legal defense. I don't think his lawyer believe it was a defense. I think he was trying to give some type of explanation, one that perhaps was more helpful to his client than to anyone else.

Diane Walker: Thank you so much, Steve, and for putting that into perspective. We appreciate it. 

See the video at right for the full interview.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly