Shooting reaps 17-year sentence — (St. Petersburg Times)

SSRI Ed note: Man participating in Luvox trial drinks, suffers a delusion, kills a man who dated his wife, blames the med. Deceased's father wants him locked up forever.

Original article not available

[]SSRI Stories has confirmed that David Doyle Rittenhouse was participating in a clinical trial for Luvox.  He had no previous history of violence.  The manufacturer of Luvox never reported this murder to the FDA.***

St. Petersburg Times

July 23, 1993


A man who said ***experimental psychological drugs made him kill a man who had gone out with his wife was sentenced to 17 years in prison Thursday.

David Doyle Rittenhouse, 30, apologized for killing 24-year-old William McKnight on May 25, 1992, saying it was a “one-time event” that would not have happened if he had not been using experimental drugs. “I certainly don’t feel I’m a threat to society,” he said.

But McKnight’s parents did not agree.

“My family would like to see him off the streets forever,” said McKnight’s father, George McKnight. “”We know that can’t happen. But he should be punished for taking our only child.”

Rittenhouse said he was taking a drug somewhat similar to the controversial drug Prozac, and that the drug impeded his perception abilities.

During his trial, he tried to convince the jury that he was guilty of manslaughter, not second-degree murder, because he thought McKnight raped his wife.

In reality, said prosecutor Kendall Davidson, Rittenhouse’s wife, Rachel, had been on a date with McKnight and everything that happened between them was consensual.

“He was alleging that in his mind the guy had raped his wife,” Davidson said. “He knows it didn’t happen that way – but he said that is what was in his mind.”

The day before the shooting, Rittenhouse looked for McKnight.

He went to the home of McKnight’s parents with a bottle of acid and a gun and told the father that he hadn’t decided whether to throw acid on McKnight or shoot him.

McKnight’s father, who testified at the trial, calmed Rittenhouse and sent him on his way.

The next night, McKnight went to Rittenhouse’s home in Coquina Key and warned him not to bother his parents. If Rittenhouse had a problem with McKnight, he said, he would have to deal with him.

That’s when Rittenhouse shot him several times in the upper torso.

In a letter to Circuit Judge Susan F. Schaeffer, Rittenhouse said that if he had not been under the influence of the drugs, he would have had better judgment.

“And in 3 seconds of faltered judgment, I committed the worst mistake of my life,” he wrote. “Your honor, I can barely stand to think of how the victim’s family must hate me. The irreversibleness of my actions overwhelms me. I wish to God that I could undo the pain they’ve experienced.”

Rittenhouse’s father, Doyle Rittenhouse, said, his son was a “good boy” who had never done anything wrong.

“This is such an unfortunate incident,” he said. “If it was not for the medication they put him on and the alcohol he had, it would have never happened.”

Schaeffer told Rittenhouse that she thought he could be a productive member of society and that he could put this incident behind him when he gets out of prison. But part of the reason for sentencing is punishment and retribution.

She sentenced him under state sentencing guidelines to 17 years, with a three-year minimum mandatory sentence for using a firearm.

“”I think you’re a worthwhile individual,” she said. “But you are being punished for a very bad act you committed.”

Edition:  CITY
Page:  7; 3
Index Terms: murder sentence
Record Number:  030