Soldier Who Blamed Chantix for Murder Gets New Trial

By McCarton Ackerman 08/29/14

Defendant George MacDonald may have been suffering some side effects of Chantix, which include depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and hallucinations.

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A former soldier currently sentenced to life without parole for murder has been granted a new trial in his argument that he was driven to kill as a result of the anti-smoking drug Chantix.

The five member U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces ruled that the original trial judge should have told jurors that “involuntary intoxication” could be used as a defense in the case of Army Pfc. George D.B. MacDonald. Chief Judge James Baker wrote that “as a result, we are left with reasonable doubt as to whether the absence of an instruction contributed to the verdict.” He also cited “some evidence” from the FDA that Chantix could have extreme adverse effects on some patients.

MacDonald stabbed and slashed Rick Bulmer, a fellow Army recruit at Georgia’s Fort Benning, more than 50 times in May 2008. Hours after the killing, he wrote in his journal that “I snapped and didn’t like it. I was stretched and it made me crazy.” Bulmer’s mother, Wendy Smith, expressed outrage at the new trial and declared that MacDonald “knew exactly what he was doing.”

Chantix carries the strongest warnings possible from the Food and Drug Administration over its side effects, which include depression, aggression, and suicidal thoughts. Despite this, the makers of Chantix, Pfizer, reported $486 million in sales during the first nine months of last year and it has been prescribed to more than 100 million patients worldwide.

Last April, 65-year-old Tim Danielson blamed Chantix for causing him to shoot and kill his ex-wife Ming Qi in a fit of rage in June 2011. He pleaded not guilty and has since been awaiting trial.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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