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The Pharmaceutical Tragedy of Kurt Danysh

Written by Print  E-mail
Kurt Danysh as a teenager.
Kurt at age 18

"I was on Prozac. It's supposed to calm me down, and like level me out, but since I got on it, when something bothers me, it bothers me to [the] extreme. I just act differently. I don't have the energy or personality I used to. I spend half the time in a trance. I didn't realize I did it until after it was done, and then I realized it. This might sound weird, but it felt like I was left there holding a gun."

-- Kurt Danysh, police confession

Kurt Danysh was an outgoing 18-year old boy, whose troubles began when he was prescribed Prozac by a doctor who had performed no testing. The teenager quickly became withdrawn, and his emotional instability tail-spinned, making him reckless and violent. His rapid drug-induced deterioration continued; placing him in a fight with his best friend, and later compelling him to intentionally crash his truck into a stone wall. He then vandalized his own kamikazed-truck with graffiti in a manner that was reminiscent of the Charles Manson cult. This era of Kurt's life ended with him fatally shooting his father, at only 17 days after his first dose of Prozac. There was no motive for the crime, and Kurt had no history of violence.

The Kangaroo Court

While being incarcerated for eighteen months awaiting a trial that would never come, Kurt refused to plead guilty. He was cruelly taunted by the jail staff with newspaper clippings about him during that time. His attorney, Paul Ackourey, met with Kurt in the county jail, and implored him to plead guilty to third degree murder. The attorney claimed that Kurt's case was hopeless because there was an apparent lack of evidence linking Prozac to violence. Kurt was refused a trial by jury for eighteen months, where he could have submitted his recount of his drug intoxication. The drug had been provided by the sheriff department's doctor, who had met Kurt after a minor offense. It is something that would have looked really bad in the press.

On one fateful day, Mr. Ackourey produced graphically disturbing photographs of Kurt's father at the scene of the crime and at autopsy. Kurt was then threatened that if he did not plead guilty, then his family would have to witness the grotesque images at the trial. Mr. Ackourey then left Kurt alone with the disturbing photos. He later returned to find Kurt crying. Kurt finally agreed to plead guilty, and he was immediately driven to the court house to enter a formal guilty plea. After having waited eighteen months, it suddenly took only minutes to get Kurt into court. That is, once he agreed that there would be no jury, and that the drug would not be mentioned.

Despite the court having been informed that the state's doctors had been continuing to drug Kurt with two major psychogenic tranquilizers, which are usually reserved for schizophrenic patients, the guilty plea was nevertheless accepted. The court made this decision despite evidence that Prozac had dramatically altered both Kurt's thinking and behavior at the time of his crime, and despite the fact that the state itself was actually giving Kurt even more mind-altering pharmaceuticals at the time of his confession. The Court of Common Pleas, of Susquehanna County, PA., accepted Kurt's "confession" for case number 132-1996 CR.. Judge Kenneth Seamans sentenced Kurt to 22.5 to 60 years inside a maximum security prison. Kurt has been incarcerated at SCI Frackville Prison in Frackville, Pennsylvania since 1996.

During his sentencing, Kurt addressed his family:

"First and most important, I never meant for this to happen. If I was in control that day, it never would have. I know that doesn't lessen the pain, or the loss, or the anger, but it's the truth. Even though I had no control, I know I did a terrible thing. Words can't begin to describe how I feel. I feel the same hate and anger you do towards myself. The pain I feel will never fade... I am truly sorry for what I have done. I hope my sentence will bring some closure to the family... and to Dad, who I know is watching; I want you to know I always loved you and I never meant to hurt you."

Judge Kenneth Seamans
Judge Ken Seamans
Kurt later received the expert opinion of Donald H. Marks, M.D., informing him that Prozac can cause violent behavior. Kurt appealed to the court with this newly discovered evidence including additional complaints about his unlawfully coerced guilty plea, and his being under-represented by an attorney who was unable to uncover the scientific information pertaining to his case. On July 22nd, 2003, the same judge who had originally sentenced Kurt, Judge Kenneth Seamans, denied his appeal and excused this by referring to Kurt's appeal as "untimely". The potential of Kurt having been innocent was irrelevant to the judge, because in his opinion, the evidence was delivered too late. Meanwhile, Kurt waits in prison due to his lack of punctuality, and the court's unwillingness to admit its failures.

Eight years into Kurt's conviction, the F.D.A. finally admitted that S.S.R.I. anti-depressants such as Prozac cause psychotic suicidal episodes, particularly in adolescents and children. These drugs were never actually approved for pediatric use, and such use is termed as an "off label" use. The F.D.A. now requires that all such (S.S.R.I.) drugs carry a Black Box Warning; citing that they are to be considered dangerous for pediatric patients, due to their unpredictable psychiatric effects. A Black Box warning by the F.D.A. is the last step before an official ban is placed upon a substance, but the industry is actually prescribing S.S.R.I. drugs to young people more often in disregard of the F.D.A.'s warnings.

Since then, it has been revealed that Eli Lilly & Co. (maker of Prozac) covered up its own data from 1988, which linked Prozac to violence. No disciplinary action was taken against them. Such cover-ups by the industry are implicitly encouraged by the F.D.A., and it allows companies to conceal negative findings under the guise of 'commercial trade secrets'. It has obstinately argued that pharmaceutical corporations cannot be compelled to divulge the results of unflattering research, even when the lack of disclosure means deaths. Neither will the F.D.A. release its own so-called 'proprietary' drug information, and the agency cites that it is compelled to maintain secrecy by law. There is no such law. Pharmaceutical corporations are actually allowed to cherry pick the results that they wish to be made public. It is business as usual, and they call it 'science'.

Kurt Danysh filed an appeal on October 11th, 2008, citing new DNA evidence exists supporting that Prozac played a crucial role in his father's death. Genelex Corporation, a laboratory which tests for the liver enzyme CYP2D6, has positively identified Kurt as a poor metabolizer of S.S.R.I. medications, such as Prozac. Kurt's inability to properly metabolize such drugs greatly increases his risk of having poor reactions and bizarre side-effects. Because his liver cannot properly process these drugs, they accumulate in his body in massive dosages over very short periods of time.

Kurt requested for Judge Kenneth Seamans to be excused from the hearing, due to him having committed glaring errors, and because Judge Seamans has shown an agenda of suppressing the issues surrounding Kurt's drug intoxication. Judge Kenneth Seamans has repeatedly refused to recuse himself from any of the proceedings.

Image: District Attorney Jason Legg
D.A. Jason Legg
Susquehanna County District Attorney, Jason Legg, has now filed an opposition to Kurt's right to even have an appeal hearing, because he likewise claims that Kurt was too 'untimely'. Mr. Legg alleged that since the DNA test has existed since the year 2000, Kurt should have discovered it before now (from his prison cell). Kurt is responding, based upon the obvious ridiculousness of expecting an inmate, with extremely limited resources to have the ability to easily find such scarcely known and cutting-edge medical research within 90 days of its existence, even though most practicing doctors are still unaware of it.

The facts of Kurt's increasingly questionable conviction may once again be ignored -- because of his punctuality. For the court of District Attorney, Jason Legg, and Judge Kenneth Seamans, destroying someone's life is given less consideration than their more important face-saving measures of political self-service.

Strange Encounters

Our reporting of this topic has generated much anger and a few threats. Our former publication, Naturally Good Magazine, was contacted by "a friend" of Judge Kenneth Seamans. He was unsatisfied with our reporting of the Kurt Danysh story. He notified us that his friend is such a heroic crusader that the inmates he locked away send piles of letters thanking the judge for his "tough love", and that the people he locked-away flood him with Christmas cards every year. We are sure it is all very touching.

Later, an unknown individual impersonated one of our staff members (Sarah Cain), in order to ask a question of D.A. Jason Legg on his blog, regarding the use of involuntary medications during a confession. He replied to the impersonator with:

"I would estimate that well over half of all defendant's are on some form of medication -- and I have never seen a case where such medication caused a defendant to lack the capacity to enter a guilty plea. There have been occasions when defendant's have appeared in court intoxicated, and, on those occasions, the pleas were rescheduled."

The whole point is that defendants do have the capacity to make guilty pleas while being given (forcefully at times) mind-altering drugs. It tends to make getting those 'confessions' rather easy. D.A. Jason Legg is not only okay with this, but he openly boasted about it in public without any sense of shame. Then he noted that if a prisoner appears intoxicated, then the confession is rescheduled to a time when it doesn't make the officers of the court look so bad.

The Court Documents

Despite the well-deserved criticisms that we have leveled at District Attorney Jason Legg in our publications, he has maintained a high degree of professionalism in his contacts with us. It is confusingly rare to find someone so gentlemanly, and yet so morally-ambiguous in determining the fate of human beings. While on one hand we appreciate Mr. Legg's generosity in sharing records and his professional courtesies, there is nevertheless a machine-like coldness that seems sociopathic. Thanks to his generosity, we were presented with documents from the court's records that prove the innocence of Kurt Danysh. The documents Mr. Legg submitted were actually intended to convince us of Kurt's legal responsibility, but the documents had the opposite effect.

In official documents and letters, the prosecution's own expert stated that Kurt's criminal actions were based on insanity, which should have provided Kurt a concrete defense. The state doctor further noted that Kurt's "insanity" was caused by a mind-altering drug. The state itself was forcing Kurt to take more of these drugs before and during his confession.

One doctor who evaluated Kurt prior to the confession made the following judgment:

"With regard to his legal dilemmas I find that Kurt Danysh is competent to proceed with his defense. He has killed his father, he has admitted and confessed to the killing of his father. Kurt is severely mentally ill. He has experienced hallucinations, delusions, distortions and illusions. He has been depressed and at least hypomanic. At the time of the crime it is not clear that he was fully conscious of his behavior. There certainly did not appear to be any clear cut motive. Nevertheless he was generally aware of what he was doing... In spite of overwhelming mental illness I do not believe that Kurt Danysh meets the specific criteria for insanity as set forth in M'Naghten. It is clear, however, that his mental illness was the causative factor in the shooting death of his father, and were it not for his mental illness that has chronically impaired his judgment, this crime would not have occurred."

-- Gary M. Glass, M.D.

Hallucinations, delusions, distortions and illusions are classic symptoms of psychiatric drug intoxication. This combination of symptoms only happens through medication or severe head trauma. It never happens organically. Such "impaired judgment" -- not being able to discern right from wrong is the very basis of 'Innocence by Reason of Insanity' as explicitly spelled-out by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the reports we received from District Attorney Jason Legg, the doctor questioned whether Kurt was even fully conscious during the murder of his father. He furthermore reported that the crime was completely without malice, without intent, without motive, and without criminal guilt. Nevertheless, Kurt was charged as if he held full responsibility, and was given the maximum sentence for third degree murder. All of this was done willfully, methodologically, and it was openly discussed as if it were ethical.

Modern photo of Kurt Danysh
Kurt has gained a paralegal degree whilst incarcerated, and has launched the SAVE campaign (Stop Antidepressant Violence from Escalating) in the hope of saving other children from his fate.

Kurt has gained a paralegal degree whilst incarcerated, and launched the SAVE campaign (Stop Anti-depressants Violence from Escalating) in the hope of saving other people from his fate. When he is released from prison, he intends to help other victims of S.S.R.I. drugs. He needs to raise a bare minimum of $7,500 in order for him to retain a lawyer willing to begin the process. Kurt's official web site is at: KurtDanysh.com.


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Comments (4)
  • Laura Ray  - Coverage for Kurt

    Excellent coverage and information. People don't realize the SERIOUS trouble that is caused by medicating children and adolescents (even adults) with SSRIs or any psychotropic drugs. Because it's supposed to help, they don't realize when the trouble starts. They often think it is a further manifestation of the "problem" rather than medication. I have successfully treated my son with Aspergers with vitamins, minerals, and herbs for years. Yes, Sarah, your courage stands for itself and your writing is wonderful.

  • Azri  - when i was in my 30's i was given prozac for depr

    while on this medicine i had an incident, which thankfully never brought me & mine the grief it could have. i won't go into details because i am soo not an idiot!! well ok, i TRY not to be one.
    i was on prozac for a year. the inncident in question? well, you know how sometimes you see yourself in your head doing some not so nice things? but you don't actually ACT on those thoughts? what happened is that i HAD one of those thoughts but wasn't aware i had DONE it till i saw the damage that had been done. i would never do what i did and had never done so before, but, there the sitch was glaringly obvious that i had actually acted out that thought.
    it got to where i would have what i call "brain storms". it's felt as if everything would fire all at once in my brain, if it had lasted more than a few seconds it would've been painful. i, not knowing i wasn't supposed to, stopped taking Prozac cold turkey. oddly after i stopped my depression lessened and i got better.
    if i have issues now? odds are i'll not go to the doc, i see what can be done naturally.
    i am so sorry for this young man & his family. there is a VAST difference between LAW & JUSTICE. Good luck Mr. Danysh!!

    Cheers!
    Azri

  • Karen  - Who are the real criminals?

    What has happened to Kurt is criminal- not because of his actions, but because of the drug companies, the doctors, the DA, the judge. This is just plain wrong!

  • Karen Copeland

    There needs to be a major shake up of the Medical system starting with the FDA and it's partner in crime, Big Pharma.When that happens you will have both preventative medicine and preventative crime working FOR you.


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