A teenager who killed his grandparents when he was 12 years old was convicted of two counts of murder by jurors who rejected his claim that an anti-depressant made him unable to discern right from wrong. The defendant, now 15 years old, was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Some relatives claimed that the child had not been “himself” the night of the crime. They were referring to the effects of the drug sertraline (Zoloft®, Pfizer) on the boy.
The jurors believed that the defendant exhibited side effects from the anti-depressant, but they did not feel that these were severe enough to let him escape criminal responsibility.
They also heard that the antidepres-sant and others in its class have been linked to increased suicidal ideation, agitation, restlessness, and other abnormal behavior in adolescents. Prosecutors called the “Generic Zoloft defense” a smoke screen during closing arguments.
In the end, the jury decided that the child knew right from wrong and was not a victim of antidepressant use.