FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A jury on Monday found 17-year-old Wayne Treacy guilty of attempted first-degree murder in the 2010 assault that left then-15-year-old Josie Lou Ratley with permanent brain damage.
The crux of the case was Treacy's defense that he was not responsible because he suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from his brother's suicide a few months earlier.
The attack happened after Ratley enraged Treacy by sending him a taunting text message about his dead brother.
"I'm satisfied because justice was done, but this is one of those cases where it's very difficult to be joyful under any circumstances when you have a young lady whose life will never be the same and will never be normal and a young man who has some serious issues and who clearly is facing very significant and very serious sentence," said prosecutor Maria Schneider.
Experts agreed Treacy had PTSD. But prosecution psychiatrists testified that Treacy clearly knew right from wrong.
After the hearing, Treacy's psychologist, Dr. Michael Brannon, told reporters that Treacy is on suicide watch, as he has been for most of the trial.
"He took it very hard. He's still in a stage of shock over what's been going on from start to finish with this, so really, he was kind of stunned," Brannon said. "I don't think he fully appreciates as any young person, especially one with PTSD, wouldn't appreciate the gravity of what's occurred."
"It's not only shock; it's confusion," Brannon said. "He's trying to put all the pieces together with a major mental disorder."
"I hope they realize that because they're angry, because they're upset, because they have issues, it's never OK to take things in their own hands and to act in this way. We are all, as human beings, accountable to our actions. I don't think that's very much good that can come of this, but at least I would hope that that message goes out loud and clear to any young person who is considering taking matters into their own hands," Schneider said.
Treacy faces up to 50 years in prison.
"The problem that I have, aside from all that, you still have a mentally ill child that the state's doctor and two defense doctors agreed has chronic PTSD, has not been treated for two and a half years, and there is nothing to do for him except throw away the key," said Treacy's attorney, Russell Williams. "It's unfortunate we have no place to put him, and the reality of the situation is this is a terrible, terrible case. No matter where you stand on this case, it's not a good place anywhere, no matter who you look at, what happened, how it happened and what's going to happen to two juvenile lives."
On Monday afternoon, attorney Sean Domnick released the following statement on behalf of the Ratley family:
"On behalf of Josie and her family, we want to thank the jury for seeing the truth and doing justice. It is not a day to rejoice, however. This is a tragedy for all involved. Thank you to the jury for having the courage to make the right decision. It is one more step on the road to moving on with our lives as best we can. Thank you to Maria Schneider for her hard work, compassion and dedication."
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