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Stephen Coffeen: 'Red Bull Killer' not guilty by reason of insanity, will receive no jail time

3:46 PM, Jun 8, 2011   |    comments
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Clearwater, Florida -- A man who admits he killed his own father will see no jail time after a judge found him not guilty by reason of insanity.

An expert has said drinking Red Bull was one of the things that led to the crime.

Stephen Coffeen admits he smothered his father Robert with a couch cushion two years ago. He originally claimed was he was defending himself.

His defense Wednesday was temporary insanity.

And Wednesday, Judge Nancy Moate Ley accepted a deal worked out between his lawyers and the State Attorney's Office. Under the deal, in six months, Stephen Coffeen could go free.

"The defendant is found not guilty by reason of insanity due to mental illness," Judge Ley said, after explaining she had no choice but to send him to a mental hospital instead of putting him on trial.

Instead of going before a jury, Coffeen will be sent to an institution in the Panhandle.

He'll be evaluated there, and six months from now if he's found to be mentally healthy, he could be released.

The judge said she had never seen it before.

Four doctors -- two hired by prosecutors, two by the defense -- all agreed: Stephen Coffeen lost touch with reality and was legally insane when he suffocated his elderly father.

The experts and all of the attorneys involved came to the conclusion that at the time, Coffeen could not tell right from wrong. And under the law, that means he can't be punished for a crime.

Stephen's brother Thomas found their father's body. He says Stephen knew just what he was doing. Thomas pushed for a murder trial.

"This is not justice. Justice has not been done today," Thomas said, standing outside the Pinellas County Courthouse with a despondent look on his face as his wife sobbed nearby.

The judge said she considered every point he brought up, but after reading the doctors' private medical reports, she said the insanity case is remarkably clear-cut.

"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 says his brother Stephen was jealous of his success -- and that led Stephen to plan the murder of their father, 83-year old Robert Coffeen, in St. Petersburg in 2009.

Thomas says he's worried if Stephen is released, Stephen will come after him and his family.

Stephen Coffeen will now head to Florida State Hospital, a mental hospital in Chattahoochee, northwest of Tallahassee and near the Georgia state line.

The doctors' reports in the case are medical records and can only be released with Stephen Coffeen's consent.

His attorneys say the killing was a momentary snap and that their client is already mentally well, which is a sign they may ask the judge to release him at his next hearing in December.

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