Judge To Allow Zoloft Defense in Assault Case — (Newsday)

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Newsday

August 22, 2009 By The Associated Press 

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) ­ A Long Island judge has said she will allow a man accused of punching and kicking his former girlfriend to use the so-called “Zoloft defense.”

The attorney for Coram resident Brandon Hampson says he plans to argue that his client became violent and beat Lisa Essling on Aug. 25, 2006, because he stopped taking the popular antidepressant Zoloft days before the attack.

Nassau County District Court Judge Rhonda Fischer said Friday that she will allow a defense witness to testify that withdrawl from the antidepressant can cause a person to become aggressive.

Prosecutors say they strongly disagree with the court’s decision.

Zoloft manufacturer Pfizer Inc. has said there’s not evidence to suggest that discontinuing the drug can cause violent behavior.

Information from: Newsday, http://www.newsday.com

 

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Man who used Zoloft defense convicted of assault — Newsday

The Coram man who said his withdrawal from the antidepressant Zoloft was to blame for him beating his girlfriend was convicted Wednesday in Nassau County Court of felony assault, attempted assault and second-degree harassment charges.

Brandon Hampson, 39, was acquitted on charges of unlawful imprisonment and third-degree menacing.

Hampson’s attorney, Eric Bernstein of Manhattan, had argued Hampson “stopped taking Zoloft” several days before the attack and it was the withdrawal from the pill that made him violent.

Hampson’s former girlfriend, Lisa Essling, 28, of Malverne, said he punched and kicked her Aug. 25, 2006, at the Lynbrook apartment where he then lived. Essling said he broke an eye bone and injured her skull, neck and back.

 “We are thrilled that we were able to achieve justice for this victim and delighted that the jury completely rejected the notion that Zoloft withdrawal caused him to commit this crime,” said Kyle Rose-Louder, the deputy bureau chief of the Nassau County district attorney’s Special Victims Bureau.

The jury took about five hours to convict Hampson after a trial that lasted 2 1/2 weeks.

Hampson faces up to a year in prison. He will be sentenced by District Court Judge Rhonda Fischer at a future date.

The Food and Drug Administration has warned about slight risks for suicidal behavior in a small number of people using some antidepressants, including Zoloft.

Pfizer, which makes Zoloft, paid a Harvard Medical School professor $7,500 per day to testify as a witness for the prosecution.