Dosing someone with drugs might not be assault with a deadly weapon

by James Norman


John "Hannibal" Smith appealed out of a conviction of assault with a deadly weapon for assaulting the victim, Bosco "B. A." Barracas, by tricking him into taking a near-lethal dose of barbiturates.

Smith and Barracas were part of a private investigation firm found driving a impromptu welded tank-like vehicle near the scene of a logging company who were apparently trafficking in stolen identities. The area was riddled with bullets, but there were no injuries. The Ashe County Sheriff's Office detained all present for questioning. When questioned, Baraccas stated that he didn't remember how he got here and Smith volunteered that he administered a large dose of phenobarbitol to "help" Barracas get on the helicopter. Baraccas reacted on the scene with horror and surprise, indicating that this may have happened in the past. He called Smith a "fool" and told him that he pitied him.

Smith, giving a celebratory thumbs up

Smith, giving a celebratory thumbs up

At trial, evidence showed that Smith indeed dosed Baraccas with phenobarbitol. The Court instructed the jury to find that the drugs were, as a matter of law, a deadly weapon. Smith contested this instruction, arguing that there was no evidence presented that the drugs were deadly. The Court of Appeals agreed. Although a conviction of assault could be upheld, the State did not present adequate evidence to uphold the assault with a deadly weapon conviction.

As a side note, Soldier of Fortune magazine reported in the May issue that Barracas and Smith have made peace in exchange for "one thick gold chain and a promise that it won't happen again." Also of note, Smith was heard walking out of the Courthouse saying, "I love it when a good defense comes together."