Involuntary Intoxication and murder –
May 3rd of 2002, Virginia
49 year old Cindy Countess had been caring for her 83 year old mother, Edna Dooley, who had been suffering from dementia. Cindy was the only one of Edna’s children to step up and care for their mother in her hour of need, though it had quickly become too much of a burden for Cindy to bear; the woman was trying her best to cope with caregiver burnout. You see, Cindy herself was dealing with severe depression which her doctor had been treating with daily 30 mg doses of Paxil. Maybe everything would’ve worked out alright, but Mother Edna often hid medicine throughout the home. A week prior to the tragedy, Edna had very well hidden all the medicine in the house.
Cindy claims that though she was never a drinker, on the day in question she decided to pour herself a couple of shots. She was also able to retrieve one Paxil, which she took.
In the middle of the night, both mother and daughter had gotten up to use the restroom at once. There had been an argument while in the restroom, this quickly escalated to a scuffle in which wother and daughter slapped one another. Cindy claims her mother fell, and this is when she blacked out; when Cindy came to, Edna was dead on the floor. She called a sibling to come help, who in turned called an ambulance; sadly Edna was already deceased.
There was little doubt as to what had btranspired, Edna had Cindy’s tennis shoes track marks on her arm and face; the older woman had been stomped to death. The issue at hand became whether a mentally ill Cindy should be held accountable for the murder or not, and if the Paxil had been to blame.
At trial a doctor testified that abruptly stopping a drug such as Paxil could lead to withdrawl; Cindy had likely been feeling agitated, angry, restless, and yes, even homicidal; the doctor also testified that amnesia can get well be a another side effect. Nevertheless, a jury found Cindy guilty of second degree murder and sentenced her to 14 years.
Cindy has supporters from all over the country who believe she was wrongly convicted, her own sister is her biggest supporter. While incarcerated, Cindy’s case attracted national attention after Women Behind Bars did an episode on the case. There was even a petition which garnered plenty of signature calling for Cindy’s release. Others say she made the choice to take the medication and to drink with it. The fault is with Cindy.
Cindy served every day of her sentence as she flat refused to work so any gain time she would’ve received was taken away. She was finally released in November of 2017.
What do you think? Was Cindy wrongfully convicted?