Man beats mom dead with hammer, blames Benedryl

A California man on trial for beating his mother with a claw hammer had apparently taken around 80 or more generic Benadryl pills prior to the incident, according to his lawyer.

The Los Angeles Times reports that on February 1, 2017, David Noel McGee Jr., 26, reportedly beat his mother, Rebecca “Becky” Apodaca, 55, to death with a claw hammer, in an attack that was so brutal prosecutors declined to show the autopsy photos to a jury at the San Diego North County Superior Courthouse. The attack took place at Apodaca’s one-bedroom apartment off of North Hickory Street in Vista.

According to court documents, Apodaca’s daughter, Ella, drove to her mother’s house to check on her when her mom failed to show up for a scheduled dinner. Once inside the apartment, Ella found her mother in bed, lifeless in a pool of blood. She then found her brother, McGee, hiding inside a closet naked, caked in blood with self-inflicted cuts on his arm. She immediately called 911.

Firefighters arrived to the scene and found McGee babbling with his “eyes bugged out” and his pupils dilated. As police arrested him, they noted the suspect’s legs were shaking badly, making it impossible for him to walk.

Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe said that the victim “did not die immediately” and had hammer blows all over her head and face. Escondido authorities said they found a toaster in the bathroom, plugged into a wall socket and sitting beside the apartment’s bathtub, filled full of water.

In court on Friday, McGee’s public defender, Lindsay Itzhaki, argued that taking 80 Benadryls contributed to her client killing his mother. However, the attorney stressed the difference between killing and murder, alleging that McGee did not murder Apodaca.

“The truth is on February 1, 2017, David did kill his mom. But there is a difference between killing and murder,” Itzhaki said. “The people have to prove a specific purpose, a specific intent, for this killing.”

“Why would this 26-year-old boy kill his mother, whom he has taken care of his whole life?” Itzhaki continued while addressing the jury. “David killed his mother in a fog of Benadryl.”

Itzhaki said she wanted to call a toxicologist in to testify that taking too much Benadryl causes “hallucinations and delirium and psychosis.” When his blood was drawn, McGee had a “huge, potentially lethal” level of the medication in his system, according to court documents.

Watanabe disagreed. The prosecutor argued that McGee swallowed the pills after he beat his mother to death. He cited the motive as the suspect becoming increasingly upset that his mother asked him to get a job. The prosecutor stressed that the suspect “killed her on purpose. And we may never know why he did it.”

Ella is scheduled to take the stand on May 14. She previously stated that their mother didn’t put a lot of pressure on her brother to get a job.

The story is still developing. Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.

[Feature Photo: Rebecca “Becky” Apodaca/Handout]