A 49-year old Arizona man has been sentenced to a year of probation for an assault which he allegedly committed during an epileptic seizure. David Stade of Kingman, Arizona was charged with aggravated assault following a March 2008 incident that occurred outside a Kingman truck stop. The victim, a 27-year old Girl Scout troop leader, confronted Stade after she observed him acting suspiciously while the girls in her troop were selling cookies to customers. During the confrontation, the woman was struck several times and sustained a chipped tooth and a black eye. Bystanders restrained Stade until police arrived and he was arrested.
In his defense, Stade maintained that he suffered an epileptic seizure brought on by stress. An examination by a Las Vegas neurologist several months after the incident confirmed that Stade suffers from complex partial seizure epilepsy (formerly known as temporal lobe epilepsy due to most cases involving the temporal lobe of the brain) and that he experienced a seizure during the course of the examination. The seizures are often linked to automatism and amnesia in which sufferers may engage in complex voluntary behaviours with no knowledge of their actions afterward. Actual forensic cases in which epileptic seizures have been linked to criminal violence remain rare (legal defenses involving automatism are more often associated with sleepwalking cases). Stade's condition is reportedly linked to inoperable bilateral lesions in his brain and he has undergone surgery to implant a neurostimulator in his brain to control seizure activity.
While Prosecutor Jace Zack has stated that he is sympathetic to Stade's plight, he maintained that it is still Stade's responsibility to remove himself from any situation in which he might harm another individual. In making a plea deal with the court, Stade expressed remorse for his actions and has promised to be more vigilant concerning his condition. He was given credit for nineteen days in jail.