The Freeland File
Aerospace & Defense
Global Market Data
Lucy P. Marcus
The Great Debate
Macro & Markets
Lipper Awards 2012
Personal Finance Video
Stories of surviving Sandy
Photographer Mike Segar profiles Staten Island residents who lost everything when Sandy hit. Slideshow | Photo blog
Florida girl fatally shot on school bus, suspect in custody
20 Nov 2012
In HP-Autonomy debacle, many advisers but little good advice
20 Nov 2012
Gaza shakes, Israelis killed as Clinton seeks truce
In great secrecy, India executes last surviving Mumbai attacker
Microsoft vs. Google trial over patents finishes up
20 Nov 2012
Top Hamas commander killed in Israeli airstrike
Israel hammers Hamas in Gaza offensive
Egypt PM to visit Gaza in support of Hamas against Israel
Our day's top images, in-depth photo essays and offbeat slices of life. See the best of Reuters photography. See more
Best of the AMAs
Highlights from the American Music Awards. Slideshow
Scenes from Gaza and Israel. Slideshow
U.S. soldier accused of Iraq shooting "psychotic": doctor
Sgt. John M. Russell, the Army sergeant accused of killing five fellow soldiers in Iraq, is seen in a military photo provided by his father, Wilburn Russell, 73, outside of his son's home in Sherman, Texas May 12, 2009.
Credit: Reuters/Russell Family/Handout
U.S. soldier enters no plea in 2009 Iraq shootings
Tue, Nov 20 2012
Four killed in Texas train/float collision were U.S. war vets
Fri, Nov 16 2012
UPDATE 5-Four killed in Texas as train hits parade float carrying veterans
Fri, Nov 16 2012
Methodical murder of 16 Afghans merits court martial: U.S. prosecutor
Tue, Nov 13 2012
More than one U.S. soldier shot Afghans, says local investigator
Mon, Nov 12 2012
Analysis & Opinion
Petraeus: A loss of real military standards
Slayer extends its ‘reign in blood’ to Bangalore
By Laura L. Myers
Tue Nov 20, 2012 9:59pm EST
TACOMA (Reuters) - A U.S. soldier accused of killing five fellow servicemen at a military combat stress center in Baghdad in 2009 was psychotic and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder during the shooting frenzy, a top U.S. forensic psychiatrist testified on Tuesday.
Sergeant John Russell, 48, is accused of going on a shooting spree at Camp Liberty, near the Baghdad airport, in an assault the military said at the time could have been triggered by combat stress.
Russell, of the 54th Engineer Battalion based in Bamberg, Germany, faces five charges of premeditated murder, one charge of aggravated assault and one charge of attempted murder in connection with the May 2009 shootings.
Six months ago, he was ordered to stand trial in a military court that has the power to sentence him to death, if he is convicted.
Russell's civilian attorney, James Culp, entered no plea at an arraignment on Monday at a military base in Washington state. Russell's court martial is tentatively set for mid-March and could last four to five weeks, attorneys told Reuters on Tuesday.
In a second day of hearings to discuss Russell's state of mind at the time of the shooting and establish what evidence or testimony to admit at the court martial, Robert Sadoff, a University of Pennsylvania forensic psychiatry expert, gave the opinion that Russell was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Russell has "dissociative disorder," or a lack of memory about the shootings, said Sadoff, who examined Russell for a total of 20 hours after the shootings. "He cannot remember. It's a legitimate disorder. He also has post-traumatic stress disorder."
Sadoff, a veteran of 10,000 criminal cases added: "It's a matter of what's going on in this man's mind. He was psychotic. He was not dealing with reality. That's what psychosis is."
If the defense can persuade a jury that Russell was not in control of his actions, it may be able to argue that he is not legally responsible and could spare him from the death penalty, if convicted.
During Tuesday's hearing, Culp sought authority from Judge Colonel David Conn to hire a forensic hypnotist to unlock Russell's buried memories and conduct a specialized magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test to measure Russell's "mild diffused brain atrophy", which Culp argues played a part in his behavior.
This would help diagnose "the extent of brain damage as it relates to criminal responsibility," Culp said.
Army prosecutors urged the judge to decline. Major Dan Mazzone, one of four Army attorneys prosecuting the case, told the judge that an Army medical review already indicated that Russell's brain atrophy was typical of a man his age and further testing is an unnecessary expense to the Army.
"The bottom line, this is just not necessary. It's something the government should not be entitled to fund," Mazzone said.
The judge is set to rule on the matter over the next few days.
The proceedings, held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington, come at a sensitive time for the Army, which is in the process of deciding how to prosecute Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, a soldier accused of killing Afghan villagers in cold blood earlier this year.
A two-week hearing at Lewis-McChord to establish if there is sufficient evidence to send Bales to a court martial wrapped up last week after harrowing testimony from Afghan adults and children wounded in the attack.
Bales' civilian defense lawyers have also suggested he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
On Monday, Russell's attorney outlined a defense based on his declining mental state.
Russell suffered from depression, thoughts of suicide, anxiety and stress from multiple deployments, and suffered "at least one traumatic experience involving civilian casualties" and "mass grave sites" while serving in Bosnia and Kosovo during 1998 and 1999, Culp said in presenting arguments to the judge after the arraignment.
(Reporting by Bill Rigby; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Be the first to comment on reuters.com.
Add yours using the box above.
Back to top
New York Legal
Support & Contact
Connect with Reuters
Our Flagship financial information platform incorporating Reuters Insider
An ultra-low latency infrastructure for electronic trading and data distribution
A connected approach to governance, risk and compliance
Our next generation legal research platform
Our global tax workstation
About Thomson Reuters
Thomson Reuters is the world's largest international multimedia news agency, providing investing news, world news, business news, technology news, headline news, small business news, news alerts, personal finance, stock market, and mutual funds information available on Reuters.com, video, mobile, and interactive television platforms. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.
NYSE and AMEX quotes delayed by at least 20 minutes. Nasdaq delayed by at least 15 minutes. For a complete list of exchanges and delays, please click here.