Damico & Stockstill, Attorneys at Law

Marine's attorney says dissociative episode behind DUI fatality, P.2

In our last post, we began looking at the story of a Marine, Scott Sciple, who was charged with DUI manslaughter after an accident that occurred last April as a result of a dissociative episode brought about by the man's condition of post-traumatic stress disorder and brain injury brought about by battle scars during his service. Sciple's mental condition reportedly arises from a series of events that took place between 2003 and 2009 during his service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The victim's wife, as we noted, blames the Marines for failing to properly treat Sciple's post-traumatic stress disorder and brain injury. Interestingly, investigators in the Marine Corps believe that the military may be at fault for the accident because of its deficient procedures for dealing with ex-Marines with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Following a June 2009 rocket attack in Iraq in which Sciple lost consciousness and bled profusely, the Marines found that Sciple had struggled with verbal learning and attention. After that, he was transferred to a wounded warrior battalion in California, after which he began-according to his father-to suffer from dissociative episodes. Sciple reportedly told his family to keep the episodes private so as not to harm his chances of advancement.

In February 2010, the Marines reassigned Sciple to an Air Force Base in Tampa. Sources said he arrived in Tampa on April 23, two days after which the accident occurred.

Sciple's attorney said his client was suffering from a dissociative episode at the time of the accident and believed he was on a deployment. The 860-page report released by the Marines indicated that there may have been missteps by Sciple's superiors, particularly that he shouldn't have been sent to the Tampa base since his post-traumatic stress was untreated and he had a history of mental instability. The report also noted that separating Sciple from his battalion, with whom he had served, made his mental state worse.

Sciple's trial is scheduled for a hearing concerning his case on November 14.

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

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