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‘Caffeine psychosis’ may have affected driver, lawyer says

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 9, 2009, 12:38 P.M.

COLFAX, Wash. — The Idaho motorist accused of striking down two pedestrians on the Washington State University campus may be suffering from “caffeine psychosis,” his lawyer said.

The lawyer for Dan Noble, 31, of Moscow, said Tuesday that his client was known to consume large amounts of energy drinks and Starbucks coffee. Attorney Mark Moorer described Noble as a financial analyst in the University of Idaho Trust and Investment Office who worked long hours.

Attorney Mark Moorer told Whitman County Superior Judge David Frazier that the caffeine could have accounted for Noble’s strange behavior. Frazier ordered Noble held without bail until his mental state can be evaluated.

Whitman County Prosecutor Denis Tracy planned to file charges of vehicular assault, felony hit-and-run, and resisting arrest against Noble. He said Noble posed a risk to the community.

Drivers on the highway between Moscow and Pullman reported Noble’s car driving erratically in the westbound lanes Monday morning, according to WSU Police reports.

Noble then turned onto Stadium Way, the main street through the WSU campus, where he allegedly struck Hogun Hahm, 23, of Pullman, and Neil Waldbjorn, 19, of Malaga, Wash., in separate crosswalks about a block apart. Both pedestrians suffered a broken leg and other injuries.

According to documents, Noble stopped and exited the vehicle at the intersection of Stadium Way and Grimes Way, about 175 yards from the second victim. When WSU police approached him, Noble became “argumentative, incoherent, and resistive,” documents said.

Officers used a Taser to subdue Noble.

Tracy said Noble’s wife, Kathy, told investigators he started acting strangely about three days earlier, was not sleeping at night and seemed confused. During Tuesday’s hearing, Noble got up and tried to walk away from the defense table, but his lawyer pulled him back to his seat.

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