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Marine's attorney says dissociative episode behind DUI fatality, P.1

Our Baton Rouge readers may be interested in a national story involving Scott Sciple, a Marine who drove the wrong way down an interstate in Tampa last April and crashed head on into another vehicle, killing the other driver. The victim reportedly left behind a wife, two children and three stepchildren.

With a BAC over three times the legal limit in Florida at the time of the accident, Sciple was charged with DUI manslaughter. According to sources, he currently sits in a Tampa jail psychiatric ward waiting for his trial. The story, tragic on a number of levels, shows the complex nature of the situations leading to criminal charges.

Sciple-a Marine captain, three purple hearts and Bronze Star for his service in Afghanistan and Iraq-pleaded not guilty to the charges. According to the man's attorney, Brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder caused him to black out in a dissociative event prior to the crash. Sources said his attorney will offer an insanity defense at his trial.

The victim's widow, understandably grieved, feels the military is partly to blame for the incident, in part for failing to treatf Sciple's disorder. Interestingly, investigators in the Marine Corp, after examining the case, prepared an 860 page report agreeing with the widow.

According to the report, the Marine Corps should to be more attentive as to how it evaluates and treats post-traumatic stress disorder, particularly in Marines who have sustained brain injuries. According to Col John P. Crook, the Marine Corp continues to use an "anemic system of self-diagnosis and self-reporting."

In our next post, we'll continue looking at this story

Sources: ABC News, "Marine Claims Brain Trauma Led to Fatal DUI Crash," Tamara Lush, Sep 23, 2011.

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