WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Theres been an ongoing debate among food scientists about the effects of caffeine.
Caffeine is a substance of dependence, not a drug of addiction, caffeine researcher Lawrence Armstrong told NewScientist magazine.Nobody robs banks or commits murder for caffeine.
In that same story, Manfred Kroger, the former spokesman for the Institute of Food Technologies, echoed that distinction.
An addictive drug is something you commit a crime for, he said.
Krogers point was to draw the distinction between a cocaine addiction and a coffee habit.
Nobody gets mugged over coffee, right?
Well, we here in South Florida may have some relevant new data on the subject. This week, a Broward County man was arrested for pistol-whipping a Dunkin' Donuts worker who mistakenly had given the mans wife a caramel-flavored iced coffee after she ordered a vanilla-flavored iced coffee.
Jeffrey Wright, 27, who is one of the more than 1 million Floridians sanctioned by the state to walk among us with a loaded firearm, was making the coffee order with his wife, Alexis Longo, 22, at a drive-thru window at a Lauderhill store. The clerk, Rajay Hall, told a local TV station that he tried to fix the mistake.
I asked them, what do they want in the coffee? Hall said.She was like, I dont know like, just take back the coffee.
The couple then parked the car and went in to complain to the manager.
And that led to a confrontation between Hall and Wright that was captured on the stores surveillance cameras. It started with words, transitioned to punches, and ended when Wright reached into the waistband of his pants and pulled out a 9mm Taurus, which he used to pound Hall in the head multiple times.
The handgun was loaded with seven rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber, according to police.
Its lucky for everyone involved that it didnt go off and kill somebody in the crowded restaurant. Especially since Wrights wife, Longo, was shoutingShoot him to her husband as he fought the clerk, according to police.
If that would have happened, state lawmakers probably would be scrambling to write a new law to protect licensed gun permit holders in coffee-related shootings: astand your grounds law.
Wright ended up being charged with aggravated battery, which is a serious crime. So Im guessing, hes going to need a spirited defense, one that perhaps leans on the mood-altering powers of caffeine.
A version of this has been tried before. Three years ago, a Kentucky man accused of strangling his wife with an extension cord argued that he had no memory of that day because of his consumption of caffeinated drinks.
Woody Will Smith, 33, claimed to be in a state of caffeine-induced insanity. And he had a psychologist who agreed, claiming that a lack of sleep and too much caffeine had caused him to suffer from a brief psychotic disorder.
The jury didnt buy Smiths caffeine intoxication defense.
Wright would have to argue the flip side of that coin: That being deprived of caffeine had a mind-altering effect on both him and his wife, sending them into a rage.
I guess youd call it roast rage.
I hope the food scientists are paying attention.
Frank Cerabino writes for The Palm Beach Post. E-mail: email@example.com.