Florida Keys

Driver in fatal crash says she’s pleading insanity from Xanax withdrawal

The Key West woman charged with murder for a 2015 fatal car crash that killed a local dental hygienist is now pleading insanity, according to the latest court filings, claiming she was suffering from severe withdrawal from Xanax at the time.

April Thomason, 45, who drove her black Mercedes over Stephanie Collins, 49, on Sept. 16, 2015, on South Roosevelt Boulevard was suffering from a mental disease recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as Severe Anxiolytic Withdrawal Syndrome, according to a clinical psychologist hired by the defense.

“While in this state she was psychotic and delusional,” Dr. Frederick Covan wrote in a May 8 follow-up to his evaluation of Thomason. “She could not appreciate the wrongfullness of her actions. She was legally insane.”

Thomason’s public defender filed the notice May 9 to rely on an insanity defense.

After the crash, Thomason told police she hadn’t slept in five days and was taking Benadryl and Xanax but trying to stop the prescription medication. She denied any alcohol or drug use, detectives reported.

Thomason is charged with second-degree murder, two counts of attempted second-degree murder, leaving the scene of a fatal crash and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for the incident in which a bicyclist, a friend of Collins and a bystander say they believed she was intentionally trying to drive into them after she jumped the sidewalk and hit the gas, police said.

Assistant Public Defender Kevin McCarthy, however, says Thomason had no ill will toward Collins nor the people she frightened that day.

“The nature of the insanity that the defendant expects to prove includes, but is not limited to, Severe Anxiolytic Withdrawal Syndrome.”

Thomason is due next in court June 2 before Judge Wayne Miller at the Monroe County Courthouse in Key West. She is at the Stock Island Detention Center on $400,000 bond.

According to the initial police report, Thomason sat “emotionless” in the Mercedes after the crash and after a few minutes began to say she was sorry. While with detectives, she was told Collins had died at Ryder Trauma Center in Miami.

Thomason appeared upset at the news, police reports state, “but no tears were shed.”

Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen