Sylvania Township man who claims an antidepressant
drug he was taking caused him to attack and stab
his wife was sentenced yesterday in Lucas County
Common Pleas Court.
William J. Heck, 35, was sentenced to six
months in the Corrections Center of Northwest
Ohio, Stryker, for the Feb. 22 stabbing of his
wife, Angelia, in their home at 2733 Westmar Ct.
Judge Ruth Ann Franks suspended the jail
sentence and placed Mr. Heck on probation for
three years. He pleaded guilty June 10 to
The defendant's attorney, Spiros Cocoves, and
Mrs. Heck told Judge Franks that Paxil, a
prescription drug Mr. Heck was taking for
depression, caused the violent outburst.
The couple was in bed watching television about
4:30 p.m. when Mr. Heck began stabbing his wife.
Mrs. Heck struggled to keep her composure as she
asked Judge Franks to give her husband of nearly
two years a light sentence.
"I am not an abused woman. I strongly feel we
are both victims from this drug Paxil. We both are
suffering from that terrible day, and we will
continue to do so for a long time," she said.
"Punishing him is only going to add to our pain
Paxil, a top-selling antidepressant, has been
of lawsuits for allegedly causing some children
and adolescents to become violent and suicidal.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration
recommended in June, 2003, that Paxil not be given
to adolescents and children for depression, and
recently required antidepressant makers to
strengthen suicide warnings on labels of
Authorities said Mrs. Heck, 34, was stabbed
about six times in the head and the neck and
suffered defensive wounds on her right hand that
required stitches. She was treated at Toledo
Hospital and released the next day.
Mr. Heck was indicted on one count of felonious
assault. However, prosecutors reduced the charge
after they learned Mrs. Heck would be unwilling to
testify at trial.
"I could have presented a prima-facie case
against the defendant without Mrs. Heck's
cooperation. Whether or not that would have been
sufficient to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable
doubt could have been questionable," said Tracy
Sniderhan, an assistant county prosecutor who
handled the case.
Judge Franks also ordered Mr. Heck to continue
counseling sessions with a psychiatrist and that
evaluations be submitted every three months to his
In a memorandum to the court, Mr. Cocoves said
the crime was among the most unusual cases he has
encountered in nearly 20 years as a lawyer. "The
episode certainly represents aberrant behavior in
the most-true meaning of the term, " he wrote.
At sentencing, Mr. Cocoves said Mr. Heck was
prescribed Paxil for work-related anxiety about
four months prior to the attack, and his doctor
increased the dosage about two-months into the
prescription. Mr. Heck is no longer taking the
A spokesman for British-based GlaxoSmithKline
PLC, the maker of Paxil, did return phone calls
Last year, the New York Attorney General
accused GlaxoSmithKline in a civil lawsuit of
hiding negative data and exaggerating the
effectiveness of the drug. Glaxo denied the
Contact Mark Reiter