Keith Dukes used a box cutter to cut his estranged wife’s throat from ear to ear. Michelle Dukes was bleeding profusely but she was still alive. She ran to a neighbor’s house to escape her husband. The couples three terrified children were hiding out at the neighbor’s house as well. Dukes chased her down and shot her three times in front of their children when he found her.
Dukes must obviously be some sort of depraved monster to murder his wife in such a brutal and heinous assault witnessed by the couple’s three young daughters. Yet Dukes’ legal team would beg to differ.
Dukes claimed that he was just a normal person who had the misfortune of experiencing the negative side effects of the anabolic steroid testosterone. It wasn’t Duke who murdered his wife. It was the steroids and the “roid rage” that murdered his wife. If it sounds like a lame way to escape responsibility for his actions well that’s because it is.
Daniel Buffington PharmD, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Clinical Pharmacology Services Inc., was paid by Dukes’ legal team to say that his violent behavior was consistent with adverse steroid side effects such as “roid rage”.
“You can have confusion, aggression, irritability, and that can occur in low doses or high,” testified Buffington. “It would be my professional opinion that the aggressive, hostile, and violent behavior exhibited by Mr. Dukes is consistent with established, testosterone-induced adverse side effects.”
Hillsborough assistant state attorney Scott Harmon thinks that Dukes’ legal strategy of blaming steroids is total bullshit. The prosecution introduced its own expert witness to counter the paid testimony of Dr. Buffington.
Dr. Emily Lazarou, a forensic psychiatrist and owner of La Coop PA, testified that Dukes’ history of domestic violence made it extremely unlikely that his recent steroid use had anything to do with the murder.
“I don’t believe it was affected at all by his use of testosterone,” said Lazarou.
Unfortunately, Hillsborough Thirteeth Judicial Circuit Judge Samantha Ward ruled in favor of the defense. Judge Ward gave Dukes permission to use steroids and “roid rage” as a defense strategy. This means that Dukes can introduce any evidence that he thinks will support his assertion that steroids made him do it.
Judge Ward’s ruling does not affirm the steroids-made-me-do-it hypothesis. It will be up to a jury of Dukes’ peers to decide. Hopefully, the jury will categorically reject the roid rage defense and assign 100% of the blame exactly where it belongs — on the defendant Keith Dukes.