Murder by Methanol?

Diane Fleming Murder Case

Murder by methanol looks at the Diane Fleming murder case.  She was convicted of murder and got 30 years for poisoning her husband with methanol and 20 years for adulteration of a substance with methanol.

Despite overwhelming additional expert evidence of her innocence, Diane Fleming is still locked up, with no hope of a retrial.  Misdemeanours by the prosecution add to the farce and the possible wrong diagnosis by the hospital and hence the likely wrong treatment which led to Chuck’s death.   An inefficient and incomplete autopsy added to this saga, with the medical examiner not checking for levels of formic acid nor for optic nerve damage, despite these conditions being the known symptoms of methanol poisoning.

Chuck FlemingChuck Fleming

Charles (Chuck) Fleming was a fitness fanatic and wanted to increase his musculature so he bought some ‘creatine’ which promised to do just that.  Helped by his wife, they put at least 3x the recommended dose into some bottles of Gatorade.  Evidently Chuck misread the instructions, using a tablespoon to measure instead of a teaspoon.  After drinking the best part of a bottle of the Gatorade/creatine mix, Chuck started to feel unwell and went to bed early.  He was still feeling ill the next morning but went to work.  After a while he felt too ill and came home within a couple of hours.  When Diane came home, she found him on the sofa groaning.  He refused medical help but became very ill and Diane dialled 911.  He was taken to hospital later that same day.  Chuck died at 1630hrs on June 14, 2000.  The autopsy stated that Chuck Fleming had died from ‘acute methanol poisoning’.

Cleo Powell
Diane Fleming’s Trial Judge

In February 2002 Diane Fleming was brought to court charged with murdering her husband by methanol poisoning.  (Case No. CR01F01484-01, Commonwealth of Virginia v Diane Fleming).


The presecution led by prosecutor, Warren B Von Schuch concentrated on a number of points including the two major ones of:

  • Diane gave a friend a harddrive to keep which had evidence on it that they say proved that Diane was plotting to poison her husband.  It was found that a search was done for “methanol poisoning” supposedly in May, a month before Chuck’s death.
  • The tension in the household regarding Chuckie the stepson and Chuck the stepdad.  Chuck had given Chuckie an ultimatum that he must leave by August and get his own place.
Other salient points for the prosecution were:
  • Chuck Fleming had an affair 4 years earlier which the prosecution suggested Diane was still aggrieved by, giving her a motive to kill her husband.
  • There was a $400,000 life insurance policy on Chuck Fleming which Diane would be the recipient of in the event of his death.
  • There was a bottle of screen wash which contained methanol in the garage which supposedly was used to spike the Gatorade.
Defense lawyer
David B Hargett defence council

The defence concentrated on Diane’s openness when the police came to check the house for clues to her husband’s poisoning.  Their main points were:

  • Why would she not throw away the Gatorade if she had spiked it, knowing that the police were to visit. She actually showed the police what Chuck had been drinking.
  • Why would she have poisoned Gatorade and put it in the fridge for anyone to drink, especially as her parents were visiting and the high chance that her children may drink it too.
  • The Gatorade was mixed with Creatine by both Chuck and Diane.

As for the prosecutions main points about the harddrive and the tension between Chuck and Chuckie, the defence countered:

  • Diane admitted to researching Methanol Poisoning but said she did it whilst Chuck was in hospital, after the doctors had phoned and told her what was wrong with him.  The defence also countered that the dates on harddrives were unreliable as computers often display spurious dates that do not necessarily correlate with the date and time something was actually done.
  • The reason she hid the harddrive was to protect her son.  Not because she thought he was guilty but because she thought that if the police picked up on his strange interests, ie. violent films and images, they may presume he was capable of killing. So to be on the safe side she gave the harddrive to a friend for safe keeping.  The friend gave the harddrive up to the police after being advised to do so by a relative in the police force.
  • The defence explained that the affair that happened 4 years previously, actually strengthened Diane and Chuck’s marriage and all had been forgiven and forgotten years ago.
  • The defence also revealed the kindness of Diane, how she was a Sunday school teacher and did voluntary work for the homeless, working in soup kitchens and doing much for her community.
  • Diane Fleming also passed a total of 3 polygraph tests ‘with flying colours’.
the juryA miscarriage of justice!

On February, 2002, Case No. CR01F01484-01, Commonwealth Of Virginia v. Diane Fleming, Diane Fleming was tried and convicted to sentences of 30 years for murder and 20 years for adulteration, allegedly ‘spiking’ her husband’s Gatorade with methanol.  The guilty verdict (the jury were out for just one hour) was a complete shock to the defence and to this day, it is not known how the jury came to such an erroneous verdict.

What jurors said

When certain members of the jury were asked why they gave a guilty verdict they said that  Diane Fleming showed no emotion!  Apart from this not being evidence to convict, it was unknown by the jury that Diane Fleming was taking the drug Zoloft which blunts emotional expression. Diane was also taking the narcotic drug Talwin for back pain. Talwin is a potent narcotic analgesic.  Diane was an avid taker of aspartame, as was her husband.  Aspartame is known to react with Zoloft to produce a ‘zombie like’ demeanour.  When some jurors were approached with the fact Diane was on drugs because of her distress, they said if they had known they would have not found her guilty!

Since sentencing

Since the sentencing of Diane Fleming, a number of other anomolies pointing to her innocence, have come to light, as follows:

  1. Chuck Fleming had been having health problems for months.  He often complained to his wife of frequent nausea and was regularly short of breath and feeling unwell.  He took numerous substances for his fitness regime and drank copious amounts (12 cans a day) of diet soda and other aspartame sweetened drinks and foods.  He consume 2-4 drinks of bourbon every day.  He also regularly took Tetracycline, Hydrocortisone, Beclomethasone, Naproxen, Prevacid, Multivits with Iron and then the Creatine monohydrate (which contains aspartame) of which he used triple the amount recommended.
  2. His doctor was not asked to testify to the state of Chuck’s health.
  3. The excessive amounts of aspartame he consumed could have had serious detrimental side affects on his health and does have 11% methyl alcohol in it.
  4. Chuck actually worked with methanol at his place of employment.
  5. An independent toxicologist’s report (see below) revealed that Chuck did NOT die from methanol poisoning at all.  That being the case, why is Diane in jail for poisoning her husband and adulterating a substance with methanol!
  6. The medical examiner did not check the eyes for methanol poisoning.  (Being ‘blind drunk’) comes from the effect of methanol on the eyes which causes damage and blindness.  By the way, the eyes were harvested for transplants.
  7. The medical examiner did not check for formic acid which is a metabolite of methanol.
  8. windscreenIndustrial methanol is coloured with a blue dye as a warning of its toxicity.  No dye was found in the bottles of Gatorade used for toxicology tests.
  9. Chuck died from a large bleed in the brain, caused by the Heparin administered by the hospital, according to the independent toxicologist.
  10. The fact that the Gatorade did not have industrial methanol in it was known by the prosecution but the information was not given to the defence.  This prosecutor Warren Von Schuch had two other previous misdemeaners ie:

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, in VA, admonished Von Schuch “This prosecution team displayed a disconcerting lack of respect for its sole responsibility to ensure ‘that justice shall be done’, as opposed to merely winning the case.”

In another case, prosecutor Von Schuch’s misconduct resulted in a reversal. “The Court finds that Von Schuch acted improperly and in violation of prosecutorial obligations.”

This means that the screen wash found in the garage was not used to spike the Gatorade and the prosecution knew this from their own toxicology report.

gatoradeGatorade had NO screen wash in it

There is much evidence here to prove Diane’s innocence, not least the fact that the Gatorade was found NOT to have industrial methanol in it.  Apart from that, the science of this case is quite confusing to the layperson especially with the experts coming up with various alternatives as to how and why Chuck died.   Even so, they all agree that Diane did not murder her husband and that his cause of death was from consumption and/or administration of either/or:

  • Excessive intake of drugs by Chuck, all of which had a drug stabilizer of propylene glycol (PEG).
  • Excessive intake and addiction to aspartame which Chuck consumed in copious amounts on a daily basis and had done so for years.
  • The use of Heparin by the hospital (a blood thinner) causing a massive brain bleed.
  • The administration of high doses of sodium bicarbonate by the hospital, causing edema in the brain and other tissues due to anoxia.
  • Excess intake of Creatine supplement and a subsequent reaction thereof to other drugs containing propylene glycol (PEG) and/or aspartame.

In an effort to get to the bottom of Chuck’s death, Diane wrote to a well known toxicologist Mohammed Ali Al-Bayati, PhD asking him to review the case.  Dr. Al-Bayati has over 25 years of experience in research, teaching, diagnostic work, and serving as expert witness on many medical-legal cases in the USA and other countries involving children and adults. He did a very comprehensive and lengthy report which, for those that are interested, can be found here meanwhile, below is a sample of his findings:

creatine“Charles (Chuck) Fleming’s acute illness developed on June 12, 2000 induced by the ingestion of toxic doses of creatine monohydrate and high levels of propylene glycol (PEG). Chuck was taking several medications contained PEG that increased creatine bioavability and caused acute renal failure, severe hypophosphatemia, and ketoacidosis…

The bleeding, edema, and necrosis observed in Chuck’s brain were caused by the high doses of heparin and sodium bicarbonate given in the Hospital…

The treating physicians and the medical examiner did not measure formic acid in Chuck’s blood, urine, stomach contents, or tissues… 

The commonwealth’s allegation against Diane that she poisoned her husband with methanol is not supported by medical and scientific facts, which support Diane’s innocence…”

More than one victim

Chuck appeared to be a victim of misdiagnosis, laboratory error and possibly negligence on the part of the medical professionals caring for him.  The other victims of this farce are primarily Diane Fleming and her 3 children, other family members and many friends.

Dr Fierro
Dr Marcella Fierro ME

Despite all the new evidence, the misdemeanours of the prosecution, the possible misdiagnosis of the hospital doctors, the possible wrong medical treatment by the hospital doctors and the lacking and incomplete autopsy by the medical examiner, on the 9th October 2008, the district court denied Diane her habeas corpus petition.

Dr Bayati stated “My review of the clinical evidence and supporting data in this case and Fierro’s autopsy findings indicates that Fierro’s allegations given in this case are not supported by the medical and scientific data as described in this report.”

No parole in Virginia State

As there is no parole in Virginia, Diane is scheduled for release in 2028 when she will be 71 years old!  Her request for a new trial has been dismissed.  She continues to be optimistic and is a useful member of the prison society, helping her fellow inmates when she can.  Because she is an educated woman, she writes letters for other inmates and does all she can to keep their moral up.  This is a gentle, selfless woman and despite her own terrible ordeal, she still tries to enhance the lives of others.

A sorry saga

She has become quite ill now but will she ever get out and see her children again?  Probably not.  There are too many miscreants in this sorry saga and they will all continue Ches Powerto close ranks to avoid their shortcomings being exposed at the expense of an innocent woman’s freedom.  It appears there is nobody in the Virginia justice system who is willing to step up and fight for Diane’s release.  What a sorry state of affairs and a disgrace to the Justice system of Virginia County, USA.


10 Ways To Relieve Stress

drawing on dogSo, how are you feeling today?

Kids stressing you out?  Leccy bill just come in?  Had a row with your partner?  Got a headache?  All these events will give you, in order of importance – stress, stress, stress and more stress! Below are 10 ways to relieve stress.

Stress is one of the biggest killers and causes of disease known to man.  It comes in many guises, or shall I say, disguises and is not limited to losing your job or having to look after a sick child or elderly relative.

Hidden stressors

Many of the stressors we have to cope with are hidden and not even realized by us.  Inflammation is a serious stressor which we often don’t know we have.  Arteries that are insidiously getting blocked and toxins that are building up in our bodies, calcifications that are being laid down in our soft tissue and organs.

skinOur amazing bodies

These stressors are debilitating but most of the time we know nothing about them, until they become so severe that we start to feel unwell and off colour.  Your body is an amazing piece of biological equipment and it will do its best to keep you in good fettle, until it gets so sick, it can’t keep up the pretence any more and one day you know there’s something wrong.  By this time, the condition or conditions you’re suffering from are probably well established.

What exactly is stress?

Stress is a part of everyday life and our modern way of living keeps us stressed for long periods at a time and this is the problem.  When our body is under stress, we release stress hormones specifically epinephrine (adrenaline), cortisol and aldosterone.  This is a natural response but the body does not distinguish between you being chased by a wild animal or being late taking the kids to school!

dog and catFight-Flight response

The release of these hormones is a basic survival mechanism giving you extra strength to muscles including the heart muscle, so you have the best chance of facing an attacker (or the traffic).  We call it the ‘fight-flight’ response.  Once the perceived danger is over, the hormones will disperse and the body will return to normal.  Trouble is, we’re always instigating this response with our continual daily stress. Most of us have chronic stress so our stress hormones are forever being triggered.  I give a few examples of chronic stress below.  If you suffer from just a few of these problems, you will be chronically stressed.

  • Marriage breakup
  • Bereavement
  • Having and caring for a sick childsoldier
  • Caring for an elderly parent
  • Having a high powered job
  • Being in the services
  • Having a partner in the services
  • Being an only parent
  • Having an illness/inflammation
  • Having insomnia
  • Being pregnant
  • Having a newborn
  • Doing regular intensive exercise/being an athlete
  • Living in a hot climate
  • Living in a cold climate
  • Having poor living conditions
  • Having a problem with neighbourssled dog
  • Eating junk food and sodas
  • Taking pharmaceutical or recreational drugs
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Moving house
  • Regular caffeine intake
  • Living alone
  • Most importantly, not having the nutrition to cope with the above, the most vital being Magnesium

What has Magnesium got to do with it?

Everything!  Every time the stress hormones are triggered, magnesium is necessary to give the energy to activate the fight-flight response.  Each one of our 37.2 trillion cells produces and consumes ATP (adenosine triphosphate) a substance which is the energy currency of our bodies.  It fuels everything within us.  Without it, we die.  But ATP cannot work on its own.  It needs a cofactor to join with it and that cofactor is magnesium.


Magnesium ions bind to the ATP molecules forming a compound known as Mg-ATP.  Magnesium activates ATP and without it our energy ‘batteries’ cannot be accessed.  Mg is known as the ‘spark of life’ for good reason!  When researchers and scientists refer to ATP it is the activated form which is Mg-ATP.  Unfortunately, most of the time the Mg prefix is dropped.  This is to the detriment of understanding how vital magnesium is for the body.  Activated ATP should always be referred to as Mg-ATP.

cavelion1Stressy conditions for a caveman

In the times of our ancient ancestors, stress would be more related to staying alive.  Chasing your dinner on a daily basis or being chased by a wild animal such as a cave bear.  Perhaps coming across a ferocious cave lion.  They were the largest carnivores of ice age Britain, standing 4.5ft (1.4m) tall at the shoulder.  This would be the type of stress a caveman would have to contend with.  But chronic psychological or social stress was likely not such a problem.  Finding enough money to pay the gas bill or getting little Johnnie to do his homework is not applicable to stoneage man.  Life was simple.  Up at dawn, hunt, fish, gather nuts, roots, berries and at dusk, eat, relax and sleep.

No junk food for stoneage man

He may have had to cope with being hungry and cold sometimes, but he would not be eating trans fats, junk food and sodas.  Apart from their healthy eating habits, ancient man probably lived in small harmonious family groups.  The young were cared for by all the adults.  Everyone in the group would have their tasks to do.  The elders were looked up to for leadership and wisdom.  It would be uncommon for someone elderly to live on their own.  It is impossible to know for sure how our ancestors really lived but we can be sure they didn’t have the same day to day chronic stress levels that we suffer now.

eating lateStressy conditions now

For us modern day humans, the stress we encounter is most likely much more damaging than that experienced by our ancestors.  Why is this?  Because we are under chronic stress all the time.  Not only the stress of modern day living, but the stress we put our bodies under regarding our junk food diet and long term emotional and psychological issues.  Our stress is continuous.  As soon as we wake, our day of tension begins.  If we didn’t get much sleep, we would have been anxious during the night, especially if we’d been drinking most of the previous evening and finishing off with a late night curry or pizza.


Our caveman counterpart would have been too tired to party most of the night and would be up at dawn to go hunting for food.  Humans are gregarious animals and our ancestors are known to have lived in groups.  Today, many people live alone, especially the elderly.  Not having the company of others for much of the day is not natural for humans.  Today, the loneliness that many have to endure makes for a continuously stressful life.  Being lonely will have a detrimental effect on your health.  It is normal for humans to be social.

yorkie earphonesMy 10 tips for relieving stress

So here are my 10 ways to relieve stress, starting with the most important – make sure you are replete in Magnesium.

  1. Take a good quality Mg supplement like Ionic Magnesium.
  2. Always make time every day to relax for a while.  Make sure you’re not working on your computer and try and turn off the phone, I know you’re addicted, but do your best.  Going for a walk and getting some fresh air can often lift your mood and calm you down.  Perhaps just sitting with your eyes closed listening to some relaxing music.  Make sure, if you can, that you’re not disturbed during your down time.
  3. If you’re an insomniac, Mg will definitely help you sleep.  Don’t watch TV or use the computer an hour before bedtime and don’t eat or drink late.  If you go to bed at 11pm, don’t eat after 8pm.  Take one of your Mg doses in the evening to aid restful sleep.
  4. Avoid caffeine, especially after teatime, it can stop you sleeping as can milk or other calcium drinks.  Calcium does the opposite to Mg, it is the tension mineral whereas Mg is the relaxation mineral.
  5. Don’t overdo the exercise regime.  Unless you’re in training, getting 15 minute intensive workouts 3-4 times a week is enough to keep most people fit.  Don’t exercise before bed, it will stop you feeling sleepy.
  6. write it downWrite everything down that worries you and make a list of things to do.  This will help take the anxiety from your mind and lessen your stress.  Mg is a natural anti depressant and will lighten your mood and reduce stress levels.  With it you can cope better with every day stressors.
  7. Take a nice hot bath and put in a couple of cups of Epsom salts (Mg sulphate). If you haven’t got time for a bath, try a foot soak instead, again with some Epsom salts. This is another way of taking in Mg.  It easily gets absorbed through the skin.
  8. Get your partner to give you a neck massage and return the favour.  A foot massage is also very relaxing.
  9. Try some meditation or yoga.  There are plenty of websites to help you.  Here’s one with 10 poses for stress relief.
  10. Finally, change your diet to include healthy fresh foods like vegetables, a few fruits, nuts and seeds and as much organic meat and fish as you can afford.  Make an effort to cook more at home.  Use only healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil, organic coconut oil and avocado oil.  There are plenty of recipes on the web for simple, quick  but nourishing meals for busy Mums.
  11. I know I said ten tips but just have a look at this little video.  This is my favourite clip and I put it into many of my posts.  It gives you an idea how your cells work with regards to your Mg:Ca ratio which should be 1:1.   Calcium is abundant in our diet, so much so that Mg intake is usually insufficient to counteract the Ca we consume and keep the two minerals in balance.  See what happens when Mg is deficient.

With all the above tips under your belt, you will start to feel more chilled and able to cope. This will do wonders for your general health and you will start to recognise when your stress levels rise to unacceptable levels.  You will be in control and you will be able to reduce your stress and help your family to do the same.  The most important advice I can Ches Power Authorgive you is to make sure your Mg levels our replete.  Don’t forget, stress will deplete Mg at an alarming rate.  If you know you will be under extra stress, up your Mg intake to help you cope.

Please add your input by commenting on this post.  I would love to hear from you and I always respond to comments.   Ches


Flight Safety – Epilogue

Further to my trilogy Flight Safety, Flight Safety – Pilot Error and Flight Safety – Aircraft Accidents of 2015, I have found some interesting research which could actually back up the suspicion of aspartame causing neurological and psychiatric problems for pilots.

Pilot depression research

Although this research particularly concentrates on depression and suicidal thoughts that pilots suffer from, the fact that so many pilots are admitting to these conditions could be a sign that some are in fact ingesting aspartame on a regular basis which would exacerbate or even cause their conditions. Continue reading Flight Safety – Epilogue

Flight Safety – Pilot Error?

Clayton Osbon
Captain Clayton Osbon

In Flight Safety Part 1, I covered how the side effects of aspartame could actually cause problems for pilots and crew and consequently be a hazard for all those onboard a flight.  Captain Clayton Osbon suffered a mental episode and has now lost his livelihood and has been vilified and treated abominably because of an illness that was not his fault.  How unfair!(See Part 3 and the Epilogue here) Continue reading Flight Safety – Pilot Error?