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PTSD defense of Marine charged with DUI manslaughter

Extensive research has demonstrated the lasting impact of living in combat and war zones. Military members and veterans often suffer brain damage and cognitive orders related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when they return home. Last week, an attorney raised PTSD as a defense for his client who was charged with DUI manslaughter after he killed a man while drunk driving in Florida.

The defendant, who suffers from PTSD and a brain injury he received while fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, plead guilty to charges after a 2010 head-on collision that killed the other driver. His lawyer and his family believe that the crash was directly related to his combat injuries and have noted that his case spurred the military to acknowledge it should be more thorough in evaluating PTSD. The governments attention to PTSD cases will impact soldiers in South Carolina and nationwide.

Under the plea deal, the defendant will be released to a treatment facility and sentenced to a year in jail. He will also face 12 years of probation as well as a year of house arrest.

This case highlights the very drastic and severe injuries sustained by members of the military and also the possibility of PTSD defense in similar cases. His condition, injuries and criminal case have already changed the way that the military is evaluating soldiers before the return home, particularly those who have gone through multiple deployments.

The defendant was discharged from the Marines with 100 percent disability rating. Prior to his discharge and the accident, he had earned three Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star for heroism.

Source: ABC News, “Former Marine Pleads Guilty to DUI Manslaughter,” Tamara Lush, May 10, 2012

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