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News (Media Awareness Project) - CN BC: Drug Experts Differ Over Blackouts
Title:CN BC: Drug Experts Differ Over Blackouts
Published On:2006-02-25
Source:Daily Courier, The (CN BC)
Fetched On:2008-01-14 15:37:13

A Supreme Court jury in Kelowna heard Part 2 of duelling drug experts
Friday, with the RCMP's expert shooting holes in Ronald Fowler's defence.

Fowler has claimed he was in a cocaine- and alcohol-induced blackout
on the night that Diana Russell was murdered, and a defence drug
expert has testified that that may have been so.

On Friday, the Crown called RCMP toxicologist Jeff Caughlan to the
stand. He said it was all nonsense.

Caughlan said it is unheard of to have a total blackout (amnesia)
from drinking beer, particularly the amount Fowler claimed to have
consumed on the night of Russell's rape and murder, Feb. 21, 2002.

"I'm not aware of total amnesia occurring with beer," said Caughlan.

He said a total blackout occurs from drinking large quantifies of
sprits and that, even then, it might not happen until blood-alcohol
levels reach .20 to .35.

Fowler has testified he injected a quarter-gram of cocaine and
quickly drank six "tall boy" beers on the night in question. He said
he blacked out and has no memory from the time he started drinking
the beer until he was in Vancouver days later.

SFU professor Barry Beyerstein, who instructs on memory and the
affects of drugs and alcohol on the brain, testified earlier that
Fowler's blood-alcohol level could have been between .14 and .18, and
that the cocaine could have contributed to the loss of memory.

Caughlan said Fowler's blood-alcohol level might have been as low as
.08 at the time he stopped drinking.

Caughlan said that, given the time ranges for the drug and alcohol
use that Fowler has claimed -- the cocaine about 8 to 8:30 p.m. and
the beer drinking starting about 10:15 p.m. -- the amount of cocaine
left in Fowler's system at 10:15 p.m. would have had no effect on memory loss.

Caughlan also disputed Fowler's contention that his blackout lasted
for days, saying several hours is the norm.

Caughlan also testified that at a blood-alcohol level of .08 to .12,
a person would be able to purposely plan and carry out a murder.

Fowler is charged with second-degree murder in Russell's death. Her
body was found in her Rutland townhouse.

The trial is expected to last one more week.
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