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Man accused of smothering father in St. Pete freed

Man accused of smothering father in St. Pete freed

CLEARWATER — Two years after Stephen Coffeen was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the smothering death of his father, a judge on Friday allowed him to return home to California and live as a free man, as long as he continues treatment for his mental condition.

Coffeen, 44, was charged with second-degree murder in 2009 after authorities say he suffocated his 83-year-old father, Robert Coffeen, with a pillow in St. Petersburg.

Eventually, mental health experts for both prosecutors and Coffeen’s attorneys agreed the murder case could not go forward because, in legal terms, Coffeen “could not fashion the requisite mental intent to commit” the crime, said one of his lawyers, Peter Sartes.

Pinellas Circuit Judge Nancy Moate Ley agreed and found him not guilty in 2011.

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