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The St. Augustine Record
Thursday, March 11, 2004
By KEN LEWIS, Staff Writer
Leslie Demeniuk sits in Judge Robert Mathis’s courtroom during proceedings Wednesday March 10, 2004. Jury selection for the Demeniuk trial will begin on Monday. Demeniuk is accused of killing her twin four-year-old sons in March of 2001. By JUSTIN YURKANIN, firstname.lastname@example.org
The maker of the anti-depressant Paxil won a motion hearing Wednesday that will enable them to avoid giving an accused killer all reports of studies, trials and investigations about the risks and safety of the drug.
An attorney for Paxil said it would be practically impossible to comb through the hundreds of clinical trials and millions of documents about Paxil in time for the trial.
A number of other decisions surfaced in hearings about a Ponte Vedra Beach woman accused of killing her sons. Leslie Demeniuk, 34, faces two counts of first-degree murder for the shooting deaths of her twin 4-year-old boys in 2001. The state seeks the death penalty, but her attorneys argue that drunkenness and anti-depressants caused Demeniuk to kill in a moment of insanity.
Demeniuk’s good behavior in court over the years led Circuit Judge Robert Mathis to rule she can be chain-free during the trial. She can wear a dress as attorneys pick a jury that will be qualified to send her to Death Row if convicted.
Jury selection is set to begin Monday. Mathis denied a request from prosecutors to stay the trial. The prosecutors asked for the stay because they just sent a motion to the 5th District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach. In that motion, Assistant State Attorney Norma Wendt argued that Mathis erred in ruling that the defense’s psychiatric expert may testify in the trial.
The witness, David Menkes of the University of Wales, will testify about selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), anti-depressants that include Paxil and Zoloft. Demeniuk had Paxil, remnants of Zoloft, alcohol and the anti-anxiety drug Xanax in her blood during the night of the shooting.
Menkes has said SSRIs can cause compulsive drinking and a condition that can lead to homicide. Wendt asked for a review from the appellate court because the state wasn’t allowed “to present evidence and testimony on how and why the defendant’s scientific evidence was unreliable.”
The state was going to call a Harvard University psychiatrist to dispute Menkes’ claims.
The state’s intent was to argue that the science behind the defense theory is not generally accepted in the scientific community.
In February, defense attorneys Gray Thomas and William Sheppard subpoenaed GlaxoSmith Kline, the maker of Paxil, and Pfizer Inc., the maker of Zoloft.
Thomas said he wanted reports and studies that led to certain language in Paxil’s advertisements and packaging. That language included references to adverse reactions that include hostility, psychotic depression, delusions, paranoid reactions, stupor and akathisis. Akathisis was described by Menkes as a terrible internal discomfort and restlessness.
“We’re not asking for the world,” Thomas said.
Mathis granted GlaxoSmith Kline’s motion to quash the subpoena.
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Judge Gives Mother Life Sentence For Each Of Slain Sons
Published On: Oct 14 2011 02:30:51 PM EDT
St Augustine, FL – A mother who murdered her twin 4-year-old sons in 2001 will spend the first night of her two life sentences behind bars Friday.
Leslie Demeniuk sat emotionless as her fate was announced. She already knew it would be life in prison — the mandatory sentence.
Her attorney argued Demeniuk shot and killed her boys because prescription drugs caused her to be temporarily insane, but the jury did not buy the story.
The boys’ father, Tommy Demeniuk, presented one of two victim impact statements at Friday’s hearing.
Tommy Demeniuk clutched a photograph of himself with his sons during happier times as he told the judge all about the boys, their favorite books and games. He made no mention of Leslie Demeniuk.
Nobody took the stand in defense of Leslie Demeniuk, although her stepfather, Eric Shoenig, told reporters after the hearing that she was a victim, too.
“The gun that really killed our grandsons was not the gun that Leslie Demeniuk fired, but the gun that the pharmaceutical companies put in her hand,” Shoenig said.
Before the sentencing, Leslie Demeniuk’s lawyer asked the judge to set aside the verdict. That was denied and Leslie Demeniuk was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences, one for each of the little boys.