Dr Gunther Roberts, the psychologist who markets the Charge Soda drink, was found guilty on Thursday of a number of offenses relating to the drink. In addition, he was also remanded for breaking federal law regarding subliminal advertising.
Roberts, who defended himself─ his attorney being held up in traffic – had previously confessed to creating a subliminal message in his TV advertising. But he surprised the court when he denied telling anyone to commit a crime and pleaded not guilty. He elected to be tried by the judge, Evelyna Stone, in the absence of a jury.
The subliminal message telling people to "Release your control, embrace your most innermost desires.." and “Embrace your desires” was embedded into the Charge Soda TV adverts. The existence of these messages was revealed at the beginning of July by Santa Ramona's TV station SRV7. The report, by Kent Kenwood, was broadcast on their prime time evening news show.
It is alleged that these messages led to Santa Ramona residents committing a series of crimes. There was also a wave of blackouts that affected a number of people in Santa Ramona (including two members of the Chronicles’ staff).
Much of the time in the trial was taken up by an incident at Wolfe’s, when Roberts ordered the owner, Chiara Villanova, to shoot everyone in the crowded bar. She obeyed him but used a soda gun instead of a real weapon. The argument, between the DA and the accused, centered on whether Roberts would have known that Ms Villanova would not have used a real weapon.
If he had known she would not use a real gun he could not have been guilty of inciting aggravated mayhem. But if had been unaware that she did not keep a real gun under the bar, and had therefore intended her to actually shoot people, then he was guilty. The fact that, fortunately, she had sprayed the clientele with soda was fortunate.
Roberts was found guilty of aggravated mental/ emotional disturbance, solicitation to commit a crime, battery of a Law Enforcement Officer and communicating criminal threats.
There are a number of cases outstanding in which the accused has claimed to have acted under the influence of the Charge Soda adverts. The judge therefore withheld a ruling on the charge of aggravated mayhem until these cases could be heard.
And because subliminal advertising is a Federal offense Roberts will be remanded on completion of his sentences in order that he can be tried by the Federal Communications Commission.