A Minnesota man has been declared unfit to stand trial on charges that he killed his sister, mother and grandmother — with the court citing his mental health issues aggravated by years of guzzling energy drinks.
David R. Ekers, 36, was determined to be unfit to stand trial last week in the July 2020 attack that killed his sister, 34-year-old Eleanor Ekers; his mother, 63-year-old Linda Ekers; and his grandmother, 86-year-old Darlene Broste, The Star Tribune reported.
“[Ekers] does not have the ability to participate in his defense with a reasonable degree of understanding or to rationally participate in his defense,” Judge Lisa Janzen ruled. “His psychotic thinking currently results in impaired judgment, reasoning, and decisionmaking.”
Janzen pointed to a report from Dr. Jennifer Harrison that described a “history of a psychotic disorder that has been characterized by hallucinations, delusions, impaired thought processes, and disorganized speech and behavior.”
“[Harrison] also noted that defendant reported a history of increased caffeine use, which can exacerbate psychotic symptoms,” Janzen wrote.
The judge noted that there’s been evidence dating back years that Elkers’ consumption of energy drinks has negatively affected his mental health.
She cited how during a 2018 hospitalization, his “psychotic symptoms appeared worsened with the ingestion of large amounts of energy drinks,” the newspaper reported.
More recently this year, he told a doctor that he sometimes hears voices “due to poor sleep and the ingestion of energy drinks,” the ruling said.
His defense attorney, Melissa Fraser, supported the ruling.
“I respect Judge Janzen highly, and I defer to her opinions with great deference,” she told the newspaper.
Ekers is accused of attacking his sister, mother and grandmother with a pipe wrench because he believed they wanted him to go to the hospital or take his medication.