FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Attorneys for Wayne Treacy, the teen charged in the savage attack on Josie Lou Ratley two years ago which left her with permanent brain damage, has begun their case before the jury.
The prosecution rested its case Wednesday afternoon by reading the jury all of the text messages that were sent between Treacy and Ratley.
Treacy attacked Ratley on March 17th, 2010 at the bus stop in front of Deerfield Beach Middle School after a heated exchange of text messages. Both were 15-years old at the time.
The first person called to the stand by the defense was Treacy’s mother, Donna Powers, who recounted for the jury the day she and her son Wayne found her other son, Michael, hanging from a tree. Powers said it was October 9th, 2009 and she and Wayne had decided to spend his 15th birthday on the beach. As they passed a church she noticed her other son’s car. When she pulled in she noticed the police were there.
“Then I realized that Michael was hanging in the tree,” said Powers, her voice cracking.
Treacy’s attorneys said that’s where he began a depressing spiral.
“He was standing outside of the car and I fell into Wayne’s arms and I was screaming and I don’t know, at one point, how I went to call my husband to call to tell him what I had found,” said Powers. “Wayne was yelling ‘cut my brother down, cut my brother down’.”
Forensic Psychologist Dr. Phil Heller said Treacy’s dead brother Michael Bell was more like a father to him and that the suicide crushed the honor’s student. He said Treacy began to have haunting visions of his brother and would disassociate and some times black out, not remembering periods of time. “The arousal of seeing something so horrific that brought this ptsd (post traumatic stress disorder.)
It still bothers him today. Treacy is on suicide watch at the Broward County Jail. A facebook support page said it was prompted after he saw a picture of his brother in court and an orange extension cord. That’s what his brother used to hang himself.
Treacy, now 17, has admitted that he rode a bike to the school to confront Ratley after receiving a text message from her phone telling him to “go visit” his dead brother. Ratley was apparently angry that Treacy was going out with her friend who was years younger than him.
“Stop texting my phone rapist, and if you don’t care, just stop trying me, k? and just go visit your dead brother,” Ratley texted Treacy.
Treacy’s attorney Russell Williams said the teen was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by the suicide of his brother and he needs mental health treatment not prison time.
Both lawyers were trying to get various evidence admitted into evidence. The prosecution introduced evidence that showed someone under Treacy’s name and computer profile did searches on “how to commit murder” and “how to kill someone” the night before the beating.
Williams said it didn’t make a difference because he didn’t know Ratley at the time of the searches.
Williams had wanted to play Treacy’s sometimes tearful answers during his interrogation for the jury to show his state of mind, but the judge is not allowing it into the trial. Now they’ll have to rely on the testimony of a psychological expert who will say he’s suffering from mental illness.
On the stand Monday Dr. Randall Powell, the neurosurgeon who treated Ratley, said due to the extent and severity of her injuries, those assigned to her case were not optimistic about the outcome.
“I told Dr. Laspoda ‘I don’t think she’s going to make it’,” said Dr. Powell. “When people have that much swelling they usually don’t make it.”
Dr. Powell testified that the attack left Ratley with some permanent damage to both lobes of her brain.
“If you have both sides damaged you’re screwed,” said Dr. Powell, “She will have significant issues reintegrating new memories. She’s having trouble remembering new things. That’s probably going to be permanent. I doubt she will be able to complete school. She will need someone to look after her.”
Powell told the jury he thinks it’s a miracle that she survived.
Next on the stand was Briana Cardenas who was standing with Ratley when Treacy attacked.
“He grabbed her head and started smashing it on the floor,” testified Cardenas.
“What was Josie doing,” asked the prosecutor.
“She was unconscious,” said Cardenas. “After that he got up and started kicking her. He was standing over her, he started kicking the back of her head, neck. He just kicked, like you’d kick a soccer ball.”
Treacy has pleaded not guilty to the charged of attempted first degree murder. If convicted he could be sentenced to up to 50 years in prison.