Gary Michael Hilton’s efforts to claim that the antidepressant Effexor was responsible for the murder of Cheryl Dunlap didn’t work when the jury took one hour to declare Hilton guilty and recommend the death penalty as punishment.
Hilton is a drifter who was convicted of murdering two women — one of which was a nurse, Cheryl Dunlap, who was killed in 2007. The pharmacist that testified at his trial said that it was a combination of drugs that may have made him do it. The drugs mentioned were Ritalin (commonly used to treat ADD in children) and Effexor, a controversial antidepressant. The other additive to this deadly mixture was caffeine. The pharmacist claimed that these drugs, in conjunction, cause the type of manic behavior that could prompt Hilton to kill the woman. It was stated that Hilton had a habit of consuming large quantities of caffeine which may have contributed to the problem.
The defense experts talked about a traumatic brain injury that Hilton experienced as a kid as well as emotional abuse he received from his mother and stepfather his entire life. When you combine that with the drugs and the caffeine, Hilton’s lawyer stated during closing, it was a “perfect storm that was like putting gasoline on a fire.”
The prosecuting State Attorney Willie Meggs debunked the defense closing by breaking down the testimony when he said Hilton suffered a “bump on the head at 9, had a bad childhood, and then began abusing Ritalin – and that made him what he is.” The prosecutor also made a reference to what Hilton said to police about kidnapping victims: “If you take them, you have to kill them – or else you’ll get caught.”
In the end, the jury didn’t buy the Effexor defense. The sentencing hearing is expected to take place on April 21, 2011.