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National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Murderers
Sept 23, 1995
On September 23, 1995 Viktor and his fifteen year-old girlfriend Danielle Barcheers went to his grandmother’s home where the two teen killers robbed and stabbed Viktor’s grandmother Elizabeth “Betty” Carroll 61 times. Various items, including her car, were stolen from the victim.
Both defendants were convicted of first degree murder in separate trials; Victor received a life without possibility of parole sentence on October 1, 1997. Barcheers who was fifteen at the time was sentenced to 25 years to life.
Barcheers was convicted of first-degree murder as an adult in 1997 but an appeals court overruled the verdict in 1999, saying her first lawyer erred by not presenting a mental-health defense, and ordered a new trial. Danielle Barcheers was the youngest girl in California to be charged as an adult for her role in the murderous rampage.
At her second trial, .Barcheers was again convicted of first-degree murder. A state appeals court upheld the second conviction, and the state Supreme Court declined to review the case.
Barcheers’ attorney then filed a petition in February 2003 in federal court, asking for a writ of habeas corpus to order a third trial. That request was denied on Aug. 7, 2003, prompting the federal appeal. The federal appeals court agreed with the lower federal court’s decision not to order a new trial for Barcheers. She continues to serve 25 years to life in prison for Carroll’s murder.
Another teenager charged in the case was acquitted of murder, but was convicted of less serious charges for taking items from Carroll’s home the night she was slain. He was paroled in October 1999.
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US News and World Report
By any measure, Jarred Viktor was a troubled kid. The 16-year-old was experimenting with illegal drugs, drinking heavily, and talking about suicide. In 1995, Brenda Viktor brought her son to their family physician, David Borecky, near the Viktors’ Escondido, Calif., home. After a brief visit, Borecky handed Jarred a three-week supply of the antidepressant Paxil. He said the drug would take time to kick in and told Jarred that he wouldn’t need to see him for two to three weeks. Ten days later, Jarred stabbed his grandmother 61 times. He was convicted of first-degree murder and is doing life without parole.
No one will ever know what role Paxil played in Jarred’s actions. Borecky believes it played none and that his treatment of Jarred was appropriate. In 1991 the Food and Drug Administration found no link between Prozac, a cousin to Paxil, and suicide or violence in adults. But the FDA has not examined the drug’s effect on kids. And none of this class of drugs is approved for use in kids with depression.
Doctors are divided on the issue of antidepressants and violence. Many experts say it’s impossible to know whether violent acts are linked to the drug or to the disease itself. But others find the anecdotal evidence convincing. “What jumped out at me,” says psychiatrist Alan Abrams, who testified for the defense at Jarred’s trial, “was this very withdrawn kid who started acting as though he was primed to explode” days after he started taking Paxil. Abrams believes the drug caused Jarred to become violent.
SmithKline Beecham, the maker of Paxil, and other drug companies say their medications play no role in violent behavior or suicide. Still, the companies do warn in package inserts that a small number of patients, fewer than 1 percent, may experience side effects, including abnormal dreams, agitation, hostility, suicidal thoughts, and delusions. But with an estimated 1.5 million youngsters receiving these antidepressants in 1996 alone, that’s about 15,000 who could be vulnerable.