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Before Lynch, Chief Judge, Howard and Thompson, Circuit Judges.

In August of 1997, Richard Shuman gunned down two business associates and was later convicted of first degree murder. At trial, Shuman’s defense counsel put on a vigorous insanity defense. Advancing a carefully crafted theory that a “toxic soup” of diabetes, depression, and anxiety medications — including the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (“SSRI”) Zoloft — put Shuman in a drug-induced psychotic state at the time of the killings, trial counsel argued that Shuman could not have had the necessary mens rea to commit premeditated murder. A Massachusetts jury rejected Shuman’s theory and he was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

After exhausting state remedies, Shuman applied to the federal court for a writ of habeas corpus claiming violations of his constitutional rights under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments — specifically, ineffective assistance of counsel. He now challenges the denial of his habeas petition, again insisting that his trial counsel performed ineffectively by failing to investigate and produce evidence that Shuman’s killings resulted, not from a general drug-induced psychosis as was advanced at trial, but rather and more specifically from Zoloft-induced “akathisia,” a state of violent urges and agitation.*fn1 While neither Shuman’s trial counsel nor his trial expert, Dr. Harold Bursztajn, referred specifically to akathisia, Dr. Bursztajn did testify that Zoloft combined with Shuman’s other prescription medicine could give rise to side effects including agitation, a need to act, and “compulsive behavior” that may be “organized” but is nonetheless “delusional.” These side effects, he said, manifest “right away” and are exacerbated by diabetes. For the reasons discussed herein, we affirm the district court’s denial of habeas relief.

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