Doctor: Pro wrestler Benoits concussions may have contributed to killings of wife, son
ATLANTA (AP) Pro wrestler Chris Benoit suffered head trauma from his years in the ring that could help explain why he killed his wife, son and himself, a doctor who studied his brain said Wednesday.The analysis by doctors affiliated with the Sports Legacy Institute suggests that repeated concussions could have contributed to the killings at Benoits suburban Atlanta home, though there was no way to know for sure.Whether it is the sole factor, I believe, is speculation, and I will not go there, said Dr. Robert Cantu, a member of the Waltham, Mass.-based institute, which researches the long-term effects of concussions.The level of brain damage Benoit had could have caused depression and irrational behavior, said Cantu, who also is chief of neurosurgery service at Emerson Hospital in Concord, Mass.The wrestlers father, Michael Benoit, said Wednesday he agreed to the testing of his sons brain because murder-suicide was so out of character. He said his son complained about suffering concussions, but that he knows of no medical records or records kept by the wrestling league to support the diagnosis.Steroid use also has lingered as a theory behind the killings, since anabolic steroids were found in Chris Benoits home and tests conducted by authorities showed Benoit had roughly 10 times the normal level of testosterone in his system when he died.Some experts believe that use of testosterone can contribute to paranoia, depression and violent outbursts known as roid rage.Dr. Wendy Wright, an intensive care neurologist at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta who was not involved in the study of Benoits brain, said multiple concussions could cause long-term brain injuries, but the symptoms were unclear.This isnt something you would expect to see turn on one day and have someone fly into a vicious rage, she said.Michael Benoit, who lives near Edmonton in Alberta, Canada, said that after the killings, he discovered a diary written by his son that he thought was written by someone who was extremely disturbed.He did not elaborate, but he did say a friend told him that prior to the murder-suicide, Chris Benoit had been wearing a rosary, which he said was also out of character.I think its the extreme that is in the wrestling industry today, he told reporters. The human skull is not built to get hit by a chair or something.The father said he has not discussed with his attorney whether to take any legal action against World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. or anyone else in the case.A lawyer for Stamford, Conn.-based WWE did not immediately return a call Wednesday seeking comment. The company has maintained steroid use did not cause Benoit to snap.Richard Decker, an attorney for the mother of Benoits slain wife, said the brain test results dont make a lot of difference to us.Even if the theories about the effects of continuing trauma on Chris personality are accurate, they dont rule out Chris excessive steroid use, which we know he was involved in, as a factor in the murders, Decker said. In either case, it wouldnt excuse his conduct.Prosecutors have said Benoit, 40, strangled his wife with a cord, used a choke hold to strangle his 7-year-old son, placed Bibles next to the bodies and hanged himself on a piece of exercise equipment the weekend of June 22.Authorities have said Benoits personal doctor, Phil Astin, prescribed a 10-month supply of anabolic steroids to Benoit every three to four weeks between May 2006 and May 2007. Astin has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of improperly prescribing painkillers and other drugs to two patients other than Benoit.Associated Press writer Jason Bronis contributed to this report.
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