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The Twinkie Defense

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The gooey white cream filing embracing between those savory yellow sponges could make anyone go mentally unstable. At least that's what Dan White professed in his 1979 trial over the murders of San Francisco mayor George Moscone and gay rights activist Harvey Milk. Over the span of the now infamous trail there had been a rumor that spread like wild fire in and out of the court room. What captivated the world known as the Twinkie Defense? The way this defense began allowed a man that murdered two innocent men to get a free pass out of prison as well as spun scholars from all kinds of studies to be enthralled with learning the secrets of this golden cake. The reactions and the aftermath that followed before and after the Twinkie Defense can rip anyone's taste of the famous Twinkie and leave them with a bitter taste in their mouth.



So how did this harebrained defense ever make it into the court room? Granted, that this defense would seek him freedom from his accusations of shooting both George Moscone and Harvey Milk, several researcher's debate whether or not he even claimed the famous defense. To understand the man behind the defense is to know the defense itself. The Twinkie Defense was based on a complaint by White's psychiatrist who claimed that at the time of the killings his client consumed a relative amount of sugary products that led him to become mentally unstable. Among these sugar based products were soft drinks, such as soda and the spongy cake Twinkies. This caused the media to term the Twinkie Defense and the rest is history. However, several people claim that White never said this in court. The true story was that White never claimed any type of excuse for his actions, in fact he knew what he had done and he also knew what the consequences of his actions were. His psychiatrist was just pointing out that his client, a health and fitness enthusiasts indeed had a problem with his consumption of junk food however, he never looked or said that this diagnosis had anything to do with the murders.



Just in the same way as his supporters started to reject White both socially and politically, the jury did as well. The Twinkie Defense was found to be quite useful for the defense as they were able to convince the jury that White was not in the right state of mind at the time of the killings due to the mood swings that his sugary product designed. On the contrary it did not prove that he was innocent either. The jury found White guilty of voluntary manslaughter on May 21st, 1979. He was given his sentence and the trial went from White murdering two innocent men to a Twinkies murder of White's brain. White's plead worked as a result he only received a seven year sentence and served only five of those years before being released. Even after the tragic deaths and the trail of a century many researchers still debunk the theory that sugar and caffeine were the cause of White's depression. Instead they pointed to an interior motive, that White had a great dislike for homosexuals and felt that they should not be in a political game, which he, himself played in. One of the men he killed, San Francisco supervisor and gay rights activist Harvey Milk was a homosexual causing many people during the trail and even after to believe that this was the cause of the murders. Even though this may have given him a motive many believe that White would have never have killed Milk unless it was to get reappointed as a supervisor, a task that Milk, Moscone, and several others were in the way of.



At last, the true reason for him killing Milk and Moscone was due to the fact that they refused to re-appoint him in his position. A source close to White later claimed that he was planning on murdering several other people including the mayor of San Francisco that came in after Moscone's death Willie Brown, and Supervisor Carol Ruth Silver, both of whom he also blamed for lobbying Moscone not to re-appoint him. So much so that he even went as far as to telling police inspector Frank Falzon that he indeed premeditated the murders by saying, “I was on a mission. I wanted four of them. Carol Ruth Silver, she was the biggest snake...and Willie Brown, he was masterminding the whole thing.” (Falzon homicide interview, 1998). What came after the verdict was a series of riots that would ignite a spree of mayhem and vandalism, known as the White Night Riots. These Riots took place after what would have been Milk 49th birthday, and were among the several protests from the Gay community; among others were the Stonewall Riots of New York City. They began to march through the same streets where supervisor Harvey Milk first began his campaign in his rise to political power; Castro Street was filled with protester heading straight to City Hall.



In today's society the Twinkie Defense is shown as an example as one of the most ridiculous but, affective cases of getting a client to do minimal time for a crime. Even during the Night riots a man was heard shouting to a reporter saying, “Make sure you put in the paper that I ate too many Twinkies.” (Overheard from White Night Riots). Even after several years have passed the Twinkie Defense is now used as a mockery term in the court rooms. Often used by Prosecutors as joke or by the Defense as an example as a lawyers win. All things aside from the time period that this term was used, today our court systems have changed to the point where they now look by the books in order to stop you from getting away with anything. Several states are different with their laws and just like their laws are different then so are their cases. What makes Dan White's cases so different than other cases? The fact of the matter is that cases that captivate us even today know no limitations, for instance, the Casey Anthony Trial.




In final consideration towards the lives lost that day and the riots that came after, the truth about the Twinkie Defense is that it was an outrageous theory made up to excuse a man for his actions against people who weren't going to re-appoint him. The tasty treat that has been through a world-wind of rumors through the years finally found its match in the trial of Dan White. Yet still even through all of the conflict and the deaths of two politicians the Twinkie Defense was given area to breed and have a cultural impact. The drizzling snow flake cream squirming around in that yellow sponge cake made everyone go ballistic. Just as Dan White professed in his trial over the murders of San Francisco mayor George Moscone and gay rights activist Harvey Milk. Over the span of the now infamous trail there had been a rumor that spread like wild fire in and out of the court room, what's now known as the Twinkie Defense.



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