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Issue 98 Item 14 Hypoglycemia a Defense for Manslaughter

Apr 3, 2002

Man acquitted of a manslaughter charge due to his hypoglycemia defense CALDWELL, Idaho – A Washington state man who suffers from diabetes was acquitted of a vehicular manslaughter charge after a judge agreed that his condition had rendered him unaware of his actions at the time of a crash.

Delbert Dale Odman, 55, of Yakima, Wash., faced the charge for driving his pickup truck head-on into a vehicle driven by Maria Vargas, 71, of Wilder, on Aug. 13.

Defense attorney Scott Fouser argued that Odman should not be held responsible for Vargas’ death because he was suffering from a diabetes-related condition called hypoglycemic unawareness when the crash occurred.

Diabetics in a state of hypoglycemic unawareness do not have or recognize the normal symptoms of falling blood sugar. They may go rapidly from normal functioning to a state of unconsciousness, according to the Diabetes Dictionary.

Third District Judge Gregory Culet granted Fouser’s motion for an acquittal on Thursday.

"You can’t find him guilty if he’s unconscious at the time of the accident," Fouser said. "It was the right result for the trial."

The decision was disappointing and may be appealed, Canyon County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor John Christensen said. Caldwell is located about 20 miles west of Boise.