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By Terry Hillig of The Post-Dispatch

Saturday, June 17, 2000

Richard Mueller, who is accused of drowning his wife at their home in Edwardsville, suffered impaired judgment and had an increased propensity for violence, psychiatrist says.

A psychiatrist testified Friday that Richard Mueller Jr. suffered from a mental disorder caused by an antidepressant drug when his wife was killed in 1997.

Dr. Kevin Miller said Mueller suffered from hypomania, a mild form of mania with symptoms that include impaired judgment and an increased propensity for violence.   Mueller, 43, is being tried on a charge of first-degree murder in the drowning death of his wife, Kimberly, 37, on July 6, 1997, in a bathtub at their home in Edwardsville.

Richard Mueller testified Thursday that he and his wife both fell into a bathtub as they struggled with each other during a quarrel. He and other witnesses have testified that the couple’s marriage was troubled and that the relationship deteriorated after Mueller began taking Prozac in late 1996.

Miller, who teaches at St. Louis University’s medical school, said another doctor prescribed Prozac to treat Mueller’s depression and general anxiety. The drug produced some positive changes in Mueller’s personality but also caused the hypomania, Miller said.

He said someone suffering hypomania tends to be more impulsive, more likely to engage in violent behavior and less sensitive to the negative effect of his behavior on other people.
Miller said he took Mueller off Prozac and started him on a different antidepressant when he became his treating physician in spring 1999, but the result was continued hypomania. Miller said the condition disappeared when all antidepressants were stopped, and he concluded that Mueller is especially sensitive to antidepressants.

Prosecutors contend Mueller killed his wife because he was enraged by her plans to separate from him and keep their two children.  The nonjury trial is expected to conclude Monday. Circuit Judge Edward Ferguson said Friday that he would rule shortly after the end of the trial.