Opinion & Blogs » Letters

Considering the Role of Drugs in Ben Fawley Case

The recent article about the Taylor Behl case was very interesting (“Was It Really Murder?” Cover Story, Aug. 22). First, I don't see why an 88-year-old man like Dr. Merritt W. Foster Jr. or a respected attorney, Mr. D. Hayden Fisher, would want to waste their time pursuing a case like Ben Fawley's unless there was credible information that would lead them to believe that the death was accidental. Even to a layman, Fawley's court-appointed attorney, Mr. William E. Johnson, appeared to expedite his client's decision to [enter an Alford plea] with undue haste

The main part of the story that caught my attention was the mention of venlafaxine and norvenlafaxine being present in Behl's body, something that escaped the attention of media outlets covering this story at the time.

The attention should definitely swing towards venlafaxine. The drug has a long list of negative side effects, and even though female sexual dysfunction is listed, it is not one of the side effects that Mr. Fawley's lawyers should be paying attention to. One of the highlighted negative effects that venlafaxine can cause is hypomanic episodes. Those include: inflated self-esteem, decreased need for sleep, distractibility, increase in goal-directed activity (either socially, work or school related, or sexually), and excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that have a high potential for harmful consequences (e.g., engaging in unrestrained buying sprees, sexual indiscretions, or foolish business investments).

The latter symptom is one at which any doctor could point and say was a possible cause for Behl's alleged involvement with erotic asphyxiation. Hypomanic episodes are also commonly confused with bipolar II disorder.

The other part of the story which I found rather disturbing was Janet Pelasara's adamant claims that this new evidence in the case is without merit. I'm not defending Fawley, because I think the man is absolute scum for taking pictures of underage girls, but credible information should not be ignored.

Stephen Bury