Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Michigan homicide case discussing the lower court’s decision to exclude evidence of the defendant’s post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Ultimately, the court determined that the lower court properly excluded the evidence and denied the defendant’s appeal.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, the defendant was involved in an altercation with the co-owner of an after-hours club. Evidently, the two men got into an argument earlier in the evening, and witnesses heard both men saying that they would return with a gun. The victim returned with a shotgun, that he held at his side as he locked up the club. The defendant also returned to the club. While no one saw what happened, it was uncontested that the victim was shot eight times. Later, the defendant admitted to shooting the victim.
At trial, the defendant attempted to present evidence that he had PTSD. PTSD is a mental health condition that stems from a traumatic event. Those who have PTSD can be triggered by certain events, sounds, sights, or feelings, bringing them back to the moment of the original trauma. Evidently, the defendant was the victim of a prior shooting, that left him with permanent brain damage. In the defense expert’s opinion, this affected the defendant’s ability to control his impulses when he felt threatened. The defendant intended on admitting the evidence to help establish his claim that he shot the victim in self-defense.