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Yeardley Love Murder Defense

February 10, 2012

The Yeardley Love murder trial has started in Charlottesville, VA this week. I was invited by Fox TV (WBFF) in Baltimore to speak to the defense’s position that alcohol and adderall were the cause of death, not the head injury. My interview excerpts will likely be aired sometime over the next 2 weeks.

In reviewing the specific information on alcohol and adderall in this tragic murder, I share below public information (NBC29.com) on autopsy findings.

“Through testimony from Dr. William Gormley, the man who performed Love’s autopsy, we learned that she had a blood alcohol content of 0.14; nearly twice the legal limit if she had been driving. He also said there were no fractures to Love’s skull but her brain was riddled with contusions, and the alcohol in her system was not sufficient to cause death.” 

“Love also had a trace of a prescription amphetamine in her system (0.05ng/ml this I added from another source) consistent with the Adderall she took to help with her ADHD. Gormley testified that he did not believe the amphetamines were a contributing factor to her death.”

In regards to adderall, Yeardley was prescribed adderall under medical care. Adderall can be detected in blood up to 24 hours later so it is difficult to know when she had taken her dose of medication. Very likely it was taken much earlier in the day. The level is so low as to be relatively inconsequential in regards to clinical impact.

Two recently published studies reviewing the serious cardiovascular risks of stimulants in children, adolescents and adults found no association between stimulants and risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack), stroke, or sudden death. These two studies (NEJM, JAMA) represent the largest databases ever reviewed on stimulants and serious cardiovascular risks. There is additional study underway by the NIMH that is not yet published.

In my opinion, given that Yeardley was a seasoned athlete who would have had a pre-sports cardiogram and her heart was subjected to extreme athletic conditions without symptoms, the likelihood that alcohol and adderall provoked a cardiac arrthymia and sudden death is almost non-existent and wouldn’t rise to the level of consideration, especially in light of the more obvious cause of death determined by the medical examiner, “blunt force head trauma”.

We’ll await the presentation of additional facts in court and the jury’s conclusion.

So sad for all involved.

David W. Goodman, M.D.

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