Jilted boyfriend sentenced in diner murder- Psychiatrist blames bad Prozac reaction — (Colorado Springs Gazette)

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The Colorado Springs Gazette

February 2, 2002

Author: Bill Hethcock ; The Gazette

A jealous, jilted boyfriend who claimed Prozac pushed him over the edge was sentenced Friday to 52 years in prison for strangling the owner of a downtown diner.

Brian Hannon, 47, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree burglary in the March 21, 2000, death of Darlene Vigil, 47, owner of Chuck’s Stop Diner on Cimarron Street.

Judge Douglas Anderson sentenced Hannon to 40 years for murder and a consecutive 12 years for burglary. Prosecutors had asked for the maximum of 80 years; Hannon’s lawyer suggested a sentence of about 25 years.

Anderson’s sentence came after testimony from a psychiatrist who said Hannon reacted adversely to Prozac , which was prescribed to calm Hannon’s anxiety and restore a sense of control.

David Caster, a psychiatrist for 30 years, said on rare occasions such as Hannon’s case, drugs such as Prozac may have the opposite of their intended effect.

“Instead of making him calmer, he got more agitated,” said Caster, who evaluated Hannon after the murder . “Usually the medication gives you a great sense of control and well-being, but that’s not what happened to him.”

Hannon was placed on Prozac on Jan. 20, 2000, and seemed to be feeling better a month later when a doctor noted that his outlook seemed “more positive.” A month after that diagnosis, Hannon murdered Vigil. He was scheduled to see his psychiatrist the next day.

When asked whether Hannon was capable of controlling his actions on the day he strangled Vigil, Caster replied, “It’s a hard call.”

Other psychiatrists and psychologists testified Hannon suffered from depression dating back to his childhood and that he bruised his right temporal lobe when a softball hit him in 1987. He has a history of sleeplessness, attention deficit disorder, mood swings, impulsiveness, narcissism and episodes in which he dissociates, or loses control of his actions, the doctors said.

Prosecutors rejected the defense’s argument. Deputy District Attorney Paul Sanford said Vigil broke up with Hannon during the month before her death and he was jealous that she had a new boyfriend.

“For as long as men and women have been having relationships, there have been killings over jealousy and anger,” Sanford said.

Sanford said Hannon had been stalking and harassing Vigil, including slashing her car tires and putting glue in the locks at the diner. On the day of the crime, he was cool-headed and clear-thinking enough to park his car blocks from the crime scene to avoid detection, Sanford said.

Hannon offered an apology to Vigil’s family and friends, but no explanation.

“I’m very, very sorry,” he said. “I do not know why this happened. I don’t even know why I was there. I loved Darlene very much … I would have rather died myself than see her hurt.”

Hannon admitted to breaking into the diner before Vigil arrived for the morning breakfast rush. When he pleaded guilty in July, Hannon said he went to the diner armed with a handgun to “intimidate” Vigil, but lost the gun in a struggle and found himself with his hands around her neck.

Ronald Perry, a friend of Vigil’s, was satisfied with the 52-year sentence.

“It’s fair,” Perry said. “He’ll be a very, very old man when he gets out. The main thing we’re concerned about is that he can’t get out and do this to another woman.”

Vigil had owned the tiny Chuck’s Stop Diner – with seating for just 10 – since 1993. The diner, at 132 W. Cimarron St., stood empty for months after Vigil’s death but now has reopened under new ownership and is called Mo’s Rainbow Grill.

Brian Hannon, 47, pleaded guilty to murder and burglary in the strangling of the owner of a downtown diner.