UPDATE: Hiccup Girl Convicted of Murder

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Jennifer Mee originally became semi-famous in 2007 when she had hiccups that lasted for months and sometimes hit a frequency of 50 hiccups per minute. (They eventually stopped by themselves.) She became more semi-famous three years later when she was charged with felony-murder, and then again after her defense lawyer noted that his client had been diagnosed with Tourette's syndrome, which could have caused the hiccups. That's true (uncontrollable swearing is only one of the possible effects), but presumably he was bringing it up because he was considering an argument that it could also cause felony-murder behavior (see "Not Guilty by Reason of Tourette's?" Lowering the Bar (Oct. 26, 2010)). As far as I can tell, that defense was never actually pursued, but maybe they should have given it a shot.

Last week, on September 18—the day trial was set to begin—Mee's lawyer said he had "recently discovered" that his client was also schizophrenic, which bought a little time after the judge ordered a competency evaluation. Apparently not too much time, though, because Mee was convicted Friday night.

She didn't actually kill anyone, but that didn't make a difference under Florida's felony-murder law, which allows a first-degree-murder charge for anyone participating in a felony during which a murder occurred (hence the name). Here Mee was accused of helping to lure a man to a home so he could be robbed, but an accomplice killed him, and now she will be serving life in prison without parole. That seems pretty harsh, even if it does provide a super example of why not to help lure people anywhere for criminal purposes. But that's apparently the only sentence possible for a felony-murder conviction under Florida law.

One juror was removed for Googling "hiccup girl" the night before trial, despite having just been told, as all jurors are told, not to read about the case or do any of her own research. The juror nonetheless went right home and did her own research, and then took the opportunity to mention that fact to a courtroom deputy the next morning. "I have never had a juror so obviously ignore court orders," the judge said. If the juror was trying to get out of jury duty, she got her wish, but probably also got herself a contempt citation. "I expect we will be seeing you after this trial is completed," the judge told her.

Can Tourette's also cause uncontrollable Internet research? It may be worth looking into.