Jackson firefighter blames assault on meds. Man accused of beating wife on New Year’s Eve — (The Clarion-Ledger)

SSRI Ed note: Happily married man, no previous incidents, given antidepressant to quit smoking, drinks beer, beats up wife in front of small children, is charged. Blames meds

Original article no longer available

The Clarion-Ledger

Jimmie E. Gates • jgates@clarionledger.com

 January 8, 2009

A Jackson firefighter accused of severely beating his wife in front of their two small children on New Year’s Eve blames the attack on anti-depressant medicine he was taking to help him stop smoking.

But during James McCaffrey’s initial appearance before special Hinds County Circuit Judge Bill Gowan on Wednesday, Gowan questioned whether alcohol may have played a role in the alleged crime.

McCaffrey, 30, was arrested Dec. 31 by Hinds County deputies on a domestic violence charge, but the charge later was upgraded to felony aggravated assault because of the severity of his wife’s injuries.

When Gowan showed McCaffrey pictures of his battered wife, the firefighter, dressed in an orange inmate jumpsuit and shackled, began sobbing. Her eyes were severely bruised and swollen in the pictures.

“No, sir,” McCaffrey replied when asked if there had been any previous violence in the couple’s marriage.

“We were happily married,” he said. “This came from an adverse reaction to medicine to stop smoking.”

McCaffrey said he had bumped up the dosage of the anti-depressant to a pill and a half a day.

But Gowan said underlying facts seem to indicate the consumption of whiskey and beer may have been a factor.

McCaffrey said he drank beer but no whiskey.

The McCaffreys have been married about 10 years. Their children are ages 2 and 5.

McCaffrey said his wife is a registered nurse.

Gowan set bond at $25,000 with restrictions.

If McCaffrey posts bond, he can’t have contact with his wife and must live with his parents until the matter is resolved, Gowan said.

Gowan said if McCaffrey’s wife initiates any contact, he has to inform Hinds County Sheriff Department Victims Assistance Coordinator Regina Meadors.

Jackson Fire Chief Vernon Hughes said Wednesday he had yet to make a decision on whether to suspend McCaffrey.

Gowan indicated one reason for setting bond was to help the firefighter keep his job for the sake of the two small children, who are with their mother.

To comment on this story, call Jimmie E. Gates at (601) 961-7212.