Is The Twinkie Defense Actually A Real Thing?

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(PCM) Over the years criminals have gotten away with some very serious crimes by using some rather odd defenses. Many have claimed mental illness, while others have used some more far out excuses such as the “Twinkie Defense”. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is definitely a real thing!

The “Twinkie Defense” first appeared in 1978 when Dan White was accused of killing Harvey Milk and George Moscone. The jury in the case agreed with the defense that White had a limited mental capacity from eating too many Twinkies.

While the Twinkies themselves were not completely to blame for White’s actions, the jury found that White committed the murders due to his depression level. He changed his diet from eating healthy foods to Twinkies and other sugary foods which was a symptom of his ongoing depression. The term “Twinkie Defense” was coined by journalists reporting on the case and it has since stuck as a way to describe an improbably legal defense.

Wikipedia describes just how the “Twinkie Defense” worked for White saying, “On November 27, 1978, White assassinated Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. At the trial, psychiatrist Martin Blinder testified that White had been depressed at the time of the crime, and pointed to several behavioral changes indicating White’s depression: he had quit his job; he shunned his wife; and although normally clean-cut, he had become slovenly in appearance. Furthermore, White had previously been a fitness fanatic and health food advocate, but had begun consuming junk food such as Twinkies and sugar-laden soft drinks like Coca-Cola. As an incidental note, Blinder mentioned theories that elements of diet could worsen existing mood swings.”

The jury then decided that because White was incapable of rational thought during the time of the murders, they could not have been premeditated. He was then only convicted of voluntary manslaughter. This means that they felt he had no prior intent to kill and only acted out of the “heat of passion” as he was too emotionally and mentally disturbed to control his own actions.

The public was of course outraged over the jury’s findings and it led to riots over the lenient sentencing White received. Dan White ended up committing suicide seven years later. The “Twinkie Defense” is still a term that is used today to describe odd or unusual defenses.

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