FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami.com) – The stepfather of the teenager accused of nearly beating Josie Lou Ratley to death was in court as his son appeared before a judge Wednesday to give a plea and have his trial date set. But it was what the father did that’s raising eyebrows.
Wayne Treacy made his court appearance Wednesday morning. But during the visit, his stepfather proceeded to make an obscene gesture outside the courtroom.
Treacy is charged with attempted first degree murder, which could send him to jail for 50 years.
Treacy entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. Treacy’s defense attorney said a local doctor had found Wayne suffered from post traumatic stress disorder from the death of his brother.
“He anguishes about the death of his brother and he anguishes that he hurt a girl,” says Russell Williams who is Treacy’s defense attorney.
Treacy is accused of throwing Ratley, then 15, to the ground and repeatedly kicking her in the head. Treacy said he snapped over a text message he believed Ratley sent him about his brother’s suicide.
“I’m trying to show a jury what occurred was not in character with a smart, non-violent child,” Williams said. “I’m trying to show what led him to do what he did.”
The prosecution asked why it took the defense nearly a year-and-a-half to come up with the insanity defense. The state also said it would conduct its own independent evaluation of his mental health.
Prosecutors said that Josie is now well enough to give depositions in the case, but will never be the same girl she was before the attack.
Ratley suffered brain damage and spent weeks in the hospital. She continues to receive therapy and has had to re-learn to speak and write.
“I’m amazed how a young person can recover,” prosecutor Maria Schneider said. “Josie will never be one hundred percent but she is doing amazingly well.”
Ratley never returned to Deerfield Middle School and no longer lives in the city. Ratley’s family is suing the Broward County School District saying they failed to provide adequate security to prevent the attack.
The trial date has been set for January, 2012.