Army judge orders soldier who killed five in Iraq to be hypnotised
Sergeant John Russell, 48, was accused of killing five US Army servicemen at a counseling center at Camp Liberty in Iraq, but is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and claims not to remember the incident. He was declared psychotic after shooting the five men in 2009, which the military believes was a result of combat stress.
Two of the shooting victims were medical staff officers at the counseling clinic and three were soldiers. A psychiatrist who spoke with Russell claims the man was “provoked to violence by the ineptitude and lack of compassion” he received from the clinic staff who treated him for depression during a time when he felt suicidal. Multiple deployments had also affected his mental well-being. He had previously served in Bosnia and Kosovo and was exposed to mass grave sites.
Russell’s lawyers claim that the defendant was not in control of his actions and should therefore not be charged for what he did. A University of Pennsylvania psychiatrist, Dr. Robert Sadoff, diagnosed Russell with a “dissociative disorder” that makes it impossible for him to remember the shootings. He currently faces five charges or premeditated murder, one charge of aggravated assault and one charge of attempted murder.
Russell was ordered to stand trial at a military court six months ago and is expected to be court-martialed as early as March 2013.
But the judge in the case, Army Colonel David Conn, on Tuesday ordered the man to undergo hypnosis, as well as a brain scan and battery of psychological tests. The procedures would provide the case with a more thorough assessment of Russell’s mental case during and after the shooting incident.
Attorney James Culp, Russell’s lawyer, is trying to prove that his client was legally insane during the shooting spree, but the hypnosis may provide further perspective into the case.