Marine Blames his Brain Trauma for Fatal DUI Crash

Posted on October 3, 2011

A former Marine drove his car the wrong way on a Tampa interstate in April 2010 and killed the driver of an oncoming car. The driver’s blood alcohol level was more than three times the level considered intoxicated. But it was not a clear case of DUI manslaughter.

His lawyers argued their client was a Marine captain who earned three Purple Hearts after serving in Afghanistan and Iraq and suffered severe head trauma during his time there. He nearly died from blood loss and had to dig a mass grave for Iraqi civilians. His lawyers say the war had given their client post-traumatic stress disorder and brain damage and caused him to black out the night of the crash.

The Marine is pleading not guilty and his lawyer will offer an insanity defense at trial. The argument has the backing of Marine Corps investigators who wrote an 860-page report saying that post-traumatic stress disorder should be more thoroughly evaluated.

After the Marine was discharged it was determined he was suffering from PTSD and had mild deficits in learning and attention difficulties. His family would notice he talked gibberish and didn’t remember events. He experienced flashbacks, headaches and dizzy spells, and was drinking heavily and having dissociative episodes where he couldn’t remember where he was going and what he was doing. And he was on medication to treat anxiety, schizophrenia and depression.

Even after that assessment, he was determined to be fit for full duty and sent to report to MacDill Air Force Base. Before he could report to duty he drove into the man, a mechanic with a family who had been helping a friend whose care had broken down.

The crash prevented the Marine from being deployed a fifth time.


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