Defense: Teen beating suspect had PTSD

Testimony begins in Wayne Treacy case

Published On: Jul 09 2012 06:22:10 PM EDT   Updated On: Jul 09 2012 07:26:59 PM EDT
Wayne Treacy
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -

Defense attorneys are mounting an insanity defense of a teen accused of trying to beat another teen to death, claiming the suspect had post-traumatic stress disorder.

The prosecution and the defense gave their opening statements Monday in the trial of Wayne Treacy, who is charged with attempted first-degree murder in the beating of Josie Lou Ratley, then 15, two years ago. The attack left Ratley with permanent brain damage.

The prosecutor's description of what happened to Ratley was heart-wrenching for her parents. Treacy also was brought to tears, as his parents sat across the courtroom.

"He grabbed her head by the hair and started smashing it," said prosecutor Maria Schneider. "You're going to hear that after that, he stood up and he began to kick her head as if it were a soccer ball and stomp on her head as if he was putting out a fire."

There was no argument that Treacy beat and nearly killed Ratley.

"The issue is why. Why did this happen?" said defense attorney Russell Williams.

Treacy's lawyers are mounting an insanity defense stemming from his older brother's recent suicide. They contend he went into rage when he received an insulting text message from Ratley that appeared to make light of his brother's hanging.

"Wayne had a mental disease or infirmity that he did not know right from wrong at the time because he had developed what they call post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD," Williams said.

A steady stream of witnesses testified Monday, recalling what happened that day and how Treacy sent a text message saying he was going to kill Ratley.

"It said that I would 'snap her neck then stomp her skul (sic). Fastest way I could (think) of," one witness testified, reading from a text message.

Because he was only 15 at the time, Treacy will not face life in prison if convicted. Instead, prosecutors have said they will not seek or recommend a sentence of more than 50 years.

Ratley, now 17, is not expected to testify. She has little memory of what happened.