FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Defense 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, have rested their case.
Up next: a rebuttal witness for the prosecution Dr. Hans Steiner. Closing arguments could begin Friday.
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.
Jurors got a look inside the mind of Wayne Treacy on Thursday through the eyes of psychiatrist Alexander Neumeister, a leading expert on PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder.) Neumeister testified there’s no question in his mind that Treacy was suffering from PTSD when he viciously head stomped Ratley with steel toed boots.
“Wayne must have been in a state of full blown PTSD on that day,” testified Dr. Neumeister.
Treacy said the PTSD was brought on by seeing his older brother after he hanged himself. Dr. Neumeister testified that rage came rushing back five months later when Treacy and Ratley had a heated text message exchange, in which Ratley brought up his dead brother.
“This text message was a game changer. I have to say it was sent on the wrong day. It was a bad day already, as I said before, it was sent to the wrong person,” said Dr. Neumeister.
It was after that text message exchange that Treacy beat Ratley. Dr. Neumeister said Treacy was in a dissociative state and had no idea what he was doing and even had amnesia, which goes to the heart of Treacy’s insanity defense.
“He didn’t see the girl anymore, he saw a red shirt. He saw something red then he was on auto pilot ya know, basically it was like a tunnel view,” testified Dr. Neumeister.
Dr. Hans Steiner, a psychiatrist brought in by prosecutors as a rebuttal witness, testified that when Treacy went to the school, found Ratley and then proceeded to hit her and stomp on her head, he knew what he was doing was wrong.
Treacy’s mother Donna Powers also testified for the defense on Wednesday. She recounted for the jury the day she and her son Wayne found her other son, Michael, hanging from a tree.
“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 him. He said Treacy began to have haunting visions of his brother and would disassociate and sometimes black out, not remembering periods of time.
“The arousal of seeing something so horrific that brought on this PTSD.” said Heller.
Dr. Neumeister testified that this mental illness has many facets.
“Patients with PTSD are kind of magnets for trouble,” Neumeister told the jury, “They walk from one disaster to the next. Not that they’re looking for it, it just happens to them.”
On the day of the attack, Neumeister said he feels Treacy was in an emotionally unstable state.
“Wayne must have been in a state of full blown PTSD on that day and I’m also very confident to say that he must have been in the midst of a major depressive episode,” said Neumeister.
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, Kayla Manson, 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.
Briana Cardenas, who was standing with Ratley when Treacy showed up at their school, testified for the prosecution about the viciousness of the attack.
“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.”
Heller said in his opinion Treacy was legally insane at the time of the attack and because of his PTSD he did not consider the consequences of his actions. Heller added that despite the threatening text messages he did not think Treacy intended to hurt Ratley until he saw her and then directed his anger over the loss of his brother at her. The threatening messages, according to Heller, was Treacy venting his anger and frustration.
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.