March 07, 2017

By the time of Seth Adams’ fatal encounter with Palm Beach County sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Custer, the beer he drank at a bar earlier likely had him in the “excited” phase of inebriation, according to a sheriff’s office hired expert.

Forensic psychologist Teri Stockham took the stand Tuesday during what was the first full day of defense testimony in the multi-million-dollar lawsuit that Adams’ family filed against Custer and the sheriff’s office over Adams’ 2012 shooting death.

Custer, who shot Adams to death near the intersection of Okeechobee Boulevard and A Road in Loxahatchee Groves, is expected to take the stand Wednesday.

Stockham, one of three defense experts to testify Tuesday, told jurors she reviewed toxicology reports in the case that placed the 24-year old’s blood alcohol level at 0.131 percent after he was shot. Drivers are legally presumed impaired in Florida at 0.08 percent.

Stockham said that with that level of intoxication, Adams would have been more talkative, had an increased sense of self confidence but would also have impaired information processing and decreased inhibition.

Sheriff’s attorneys are hoping the testimony will persuade jurors to reject claims from Adams’ family that Custer’s shooting was an unjustified use of force.

On cross-examination, however, Adams family attorney Stephan Le Clainche floated another possible explanation for Adams’ blood alcohol content, asking Stockton whether Adams’ blood alcohol concentration could have been higher when his blood was taken at the hospital because he had already lost a significant amount of blood from his gunshot wounds.

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