Attorney: Couple argued over care of mentally retarded 7-year-old son

ATLANTA -- In the days before pro wrestler Chris Benoit
killed his wife and child and hanged himself, the couple argued
over whether he should stay home more to take care of their
mentally retarded 7-year-old son, an attorney for the wrestling
league said Wednesday.

"I think it's fair to say that the subject of caring for that
child was part of what made their relationship complicated and
difficult, and it's something they were both constantly struggling
with," said Jerry McDevitt, an attorney for World Wrestling
Entertainment. "We do know it was a source of stress and

McDevitt said the wrestling organization learned from the
couple's friends and relatives that the Benoits were struggling
with where to send the boy to school since he had recently finished

He also said Benoit's wife didn't want him to quit wrestling,
but she "wanted him to be at home more to care for the kid. She'd
say she can't take care of him by herself when he was on the

The child suffered from a rare medical condition called Fragile
X Syndrome, an inherited form of mental retardation often
accompanied by autism, McDevitt said.

Over the past weekend, authorities said, Benoit strangled his
wife, suffocated his son and placed a Bible next to their bodies
before hanging himself with a weight-machine cable in the couple's
suburban home. No motive was offered for the killings, which were
discovered Monday.

Anabolic steroids were found in Benoit's home, leading officials
to wonder whether the drugs played a role in the slayings. Some
experts believe steroids cause paranoia, depression and violent
outbursts known as "roid rage."

The WWE, based in Stamford, Conn., issued a news release Tuesday
saying steroids "were not and could not be related to the cause of
death" and that the findings indicate "deliberation, not rage."
It also added that Benoit tested negative April 10, the last time
he was tested for drugs.

Also Wednesday, Benoit's personal physician said the wrestler
did not give any indication he was troubled when he met with the
doctor hours before the start of the weekend.

Benoit had been under the care of Dr. Phil Astin, a longtime
friend, for treatment of low testosterone levels. Astin said the
condition likely originated from previous steroid use.

Astin prescribed testosterone for Benoit in the past but would
not say what, if any, medications he prescribed the day of their

"He was in my office on Friday to stop by just to see my
staff," Astin said. "He certainly didn't show any signs of any
distress or rage or anything."

"I'm still very surprised and shocked, especially with his
child Daniel involved," Astin said. "He worshipped his child."

District Attorney Scott Ballard said the autopsy indicated that
there were no bruise marks on the child's neck, so authorities are
now assuming he could have been killed using a choke hold. "It's a
process of elimination," he said.

The boy had old needle marks in his arms, Ballard said. He said he had been told the parents considered him undersized and had given him growth hormones.

"The boy was very small, even dwarfed," Ballard said.

The Benoits' argument over their son was not the only friction
in their marriage. Nancy Benoit had filed for a divorce in 2003,
saying the couple's three-year marriage was irrevocably broken and
alleging "cruel treatment." She later dropped the complaint.

Meanwhile, authorities in Georgia were investigating a link
between Benoit and a Florida business that may have supplied him
with steroids.

Prosecutors in upstate New York who have been investigating the
company's drug sales said Benoit received deliveries from Signature
Pharmacy and MedXLife.com, which sold steroids, human growth
hormone and testosterone on the Internet.

Six people, including two of the pharmacy's owners, have pleaded
guilty in the investigation, and 20 more have been arrested,
including doctors and pharmacists.

"That's something that sounds like we ought to be
investigating," Ballard told the AP on Wednesday.

A lawyer for MedXLife co-owner Dr. Gary Brandwein scoffed at
allegations that his client's company sold steroids to Benoit.

"I've only read that in the paper. I have no direct information
about that whatsoever," Terence Kindlon said Wednesday, adding
that prosecutors in Albany County, N.Y., were trying to "distract
everyone's attention from the fact that their case is

Brandwein, a 44-year-old osteopath from Boca Raton, Fla., has
pleaded not guilty to six counts in New York state court related to
the criminal sale of a controlled substance. He was accused of
signing and sending prescriptions without ever seeing patients.

Telephone messages left for attorneys for Brian Schafler and
Greg Trotta -- two other co-owners of MedXLife -- were not
immediately returned Wednesday. The two men have pleaded guilty to
felony third-degree diversion of prescription medications and
prescriptions, admitting they helped get drugs in 2006 for
customers in upstate New York who had no medical need for them.

McDevitt said the drugs found in Benoit's house were
legitimately prescribed. "There's no question, none of these drugs
are out there, none of these drugs came from Internet pharmacies,"
he said.

In addition to causing paranoia and explosive outbursts,
steroids can also contribute to deep depression, according to

"Just as you have the extreme high of when you're on steroids,
you can get the opposite," said Dr. Todd Schlifstein, a clinical
assistant professor at the New York University School of Medicine.
"You can have a dramatic difference in mood swings. You can feel
there's no hope, there's no future."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.