Seattle Man Claims Cough Syrup Made Him Kill Partner, Toddler Son

A Seattle man accused of stabbing his partner and toddler son more than a hundred times has blamed cough syrup for making him do it.

Dr. Louis Chen, 43, was arrested and charged with aggravated murder after police found the bodies of his partner Eric Cooper, who had been stabbed more than a hundred times, and the couple’s son Cooper Chen, whose neck had been repeatedly cut, at Chen’s Seattle home in 2011. And although his attorneys had earlier hinted that they would pursue an insanity or diminished capacity defense, it now appears that cough syrup might be blamed for his induced state of psychosis, according to Fox News.

This is probably the first time that cough-syrup-induced psychosis has ever been used as the basis of a defense in a murder trial in the state Washington, according to University of Washington law professor Mary Fan.

“I’ve definitely heard of induced psychosis through taking various drugs, but never a criminal case involving cough syrup.”

In a motion filed by Chen’s defense in October, attorneys suggested that the Seattle man was suffering from a cough syrup-induced psychosis when he attacked his partner and son, which they further intimate was a result of a buildup of the drug dextromethorphan in his system. Even more remarkable was the suggestion that that the drug metabolized slowly in Chen, who is Taiwanese by descent, due to his genetic makeup.

According to court records, Chen had moved to Seattle with his partner, 29-year-old Eric Cooper, and their 2-year-old son from North Carolina for a job as an endocrinologist at Virginia Mason. However, when Chen did not show up for his first day of work on August 11, 2011, a hospital nurse, Madonna Carlson, went to Chen’s apartment, where she found the Seattle man naked and covered in dried blood.

Records further state that when the responding officer first asked Chen, “Who did this?” the Seattle man merely replied, “I did.”

Seattle Weekly reported at the time that Cooper’s body had been found with more than a hundred wounds “including on his face, neck, chest, back and hands,” while police confirmed that up to five knives were used in the butchery. Their son was also stabbed with kitchen knives.

An analysis of Chen’s blood at the time showed he had dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant used in some prescription cough syrups, the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, and an antihistamine in his system.

Later, police said that Chen was in the midst of a caustic breakup with Cooper. Apart from cough syrup bottles, homicide detectives had also found an array of drug medication in Chen’s apartment which, according to them, provided the Seattle man with a dual motive: Chen might have feared Cooper would report his prescription-drug abuse and the abuse of his prescribing powers as a doctor, or that Cooper might use that information against him in a future child-custody dispute.

In the aftermath of his arrest, Dr. Louis Chen had to spend several days in a state psychiatric hospital, where he reportedly attacked nurses while delirious and had to be restrained by hospital authorities. However, medical examiners had determined Chen showed no signs of psychosis or symptoms of a major mental illness at the time of his evaluation in December 2011.

If Dr. Chen does indeed manage to plead insanity based on his cough syrup defense, it would probably be the first time that a man could evade a prison sentence by blaming cough syrup for his acts.

[Image via Wikipedia]