Summary:

The first paragraph reads: "When Eric "Ben" Gadsden shot his common-law-wife and her brother at the graduation party for his step-daughter in A Pocono Country Place last year, his judgment was severely impaired by alcohol, an anti-depressant and sleep loss, according to three doctor's who examined him."

This article also reads: "Psychiatric reports on Gadsden's mental state note that the shootings appeared to be out of character for the defendant, who had no prior criminal record."

http://www.poconorecord.com/local/tjd31118.htm


Defendant in double shooting may claim 'diminished capacity'
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By WILLIAM DOOLITTLE
Pocono Record Writer
wdoolittle@poconorecord.com
STROUDSBURG ? When Eric "Ben" Gadsden shot his common-law-wife and her brother at the graduation party for his step-daughter in A Pocono Country Place last year, his judgment was severely impaired by alcohol, an anti-depressant and sleep loss, according to three doctor's who examined him. As a result, he suffered from a diminished capacity to understand his actions, defense attorney William Sayer said. Sayer argued Friday that Gadsden might assert a "diminished capacity" defense that is more commonly used in homicide trials. Gadsden, 48, a former prison guard in Arizona and a Greyhound bus driver, is accused of shooting Sharon Smith, 37, in the chest and her brother, Leroy Smith, in the leg. Both victims recovered. Enraged because the biological father of his step-daughter, Krista Smithen, 17, showed up at her graduation party in the Tobyhanna development, Gadsden opened fire on Krista's mother and her brother. He is being held in Monroe County Correctional Facility on $75,000 bail, charged with two counts of attempted murder. His trial is scheduled for this month. Assistant Public Defender Sayer said Friday he wants to present evidence at trial that Gadsden did not have the mental or emotional capacity to form the specific intent to kill. Sayer explained that the state must prove his client intended to kill in order to make the attempted murder charges stick. Michael Mancuso, assistant Monroe County District Attorney, argued before Monroe County Judge Jerome P. Cheslock that the diminished capacity defense was only available in murder cases. Sayer told Cheslock that Gadsden was "acutely psychotic" when the shootings occurred and asked Cheslock to allow him to present doctor's testimony at the trial regarding his client's condition. Cheslock reserved decision on the matter. Psychiatric reports on Gadsden's mental state note that the shootings appeared to be out of character for the defendant, who had no prior criminal record. Dr. Richard Fischbein's report said Gadsden felt his common-law wife's ex-husband did not belong at Krista's graduation party because he had done little to support her or bring her up. The doctor's report said that Gadsden believes the ex-husband is now living with Sharon Smith. Fischbein said Gadsden told him he thought at the time that Sharon Smith was siding with her ex-husband and against him. Gadsden said he was reading the Bible on his porch and drinking wine before the shootings. He told doctors he doesn't firing the weapon. "Somehow he shot his wife," Fischbein's report states. She was grazed in the chest and his brother-in-law, Leroy, was hit in the leg. When police arrived, Krista Smithen was soothingly talking with her distraught step-father and persuaded him to give up the gun. Fischbein said it was clear to him that Gadsden's "intent was not to kill his wife, or his brother-in-law." The doctor said Gadsden's mental illness "played a significant role in impairing his judgment ..." Krista Smithen talked Gadsden out of shooting himself and persuaded her step-father to give her the gun while police waited outside. The 17-year-old's actions may have saved her step-father's life and possible injury to officers from the Pocono Mountain Regional Police, who were called to the scene by a neighbor. Both Sharon and Leroy Smith fled the house while Smithen, hearing the shots, entered the residence and disarmed her step-father. When police arrived, she brought the Sturm Ruger .357 Magnum out of the house, sat on the ground and put the gun down beside her.