Judge- Diabetes caused car attack

Saturday, March 27, 2004

CLAYTON, Mo. -- A man who said Jesus told him to run down a woman because she was black was found innocent of assault after a judge ruled the incident was caused by diabetic-induced psychosis.

St. Louis County Circuit Judge Mark Seigel ruled Thursday that Steven Johnson, 48, of St. Peters, was innocent by reason of insanity, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Friday.

Eleanor Hickerson, 57, was standing at a bus stop in University City when she was struck by Johnson's car and seriously injured. Hickerson sent word to the court that the judge's ruling would be all right with her.

The verdict requires Johnson to spend six months in state custody for psychiatric evaluation.

Mental health experts said Johnson, a salesman and father of a 10-year-old child, reacted to an abnormal blood sugar level triggered by Type I diabetes for which he has been taking insulin injections since age 7.

Ron Jenkins, Johnson's attorney, said later he wanted to "commend the victim, who suffered greatly, yet was very understanding of Mr. Johnson's situation."

Jenkins said his research found more cases of diabetes-induced psychotic episodes than he would have imagined.

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