Eltringham wins PTSD evaluation
May 18, 2012
LISBON - With several veterans in the courtroom to support him, Joseph Eltringham, the man accused of assaulting and robbing a World War II veteran last summer, will be evaluated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or other mental defects allegedly caused by his own years of milliary service.
Judge Scott Washam had previously ruled PTSD is not an allowable diminished capacity defense in Ohio, and Eltringham was not entitled to have an expert in the field evaluate him with the court paying for the evaluation. Eltringham, 45, Canal Street, East Rochester, had already been evaluated by Forensic Psychiatric Center, which determined Eltringham knew his actions were wrong when the alleged crime was committed.
On Thursday, Eltringham's court-appointed defense attorney Richard Hura said Eltringham's family has been in touch with Mike Magnusson, a transition assistance advisor for service members. Money had been reportedly given by the Ohio Veterans of Foreign Wars to pay for Eltringham's PTSD evaluation, although that has been denied by Gerald Ward, state commander of the VFW and current President of VFW Charities.
"While we do have concerns about our veterans returning with mental issues, it is my understanding he was already evaluated and found pretty much normal," Ward said Thursday afternoon. "Our view is people are responsible for their own actions. We are not endorsing this project at all."
Hura said Dr. John Fabian, a board certified psychologist, was going to the jail later Thursday to evaluate Eltringham. According to Fabian's website he has offices in both Cleveland and Pittsburgh. For his areas of expertise, his list includes competency to stand trial, not guilty by reason of insanity and neuropsychology impairment, which includes PTSD.
Fabian was not the only one Eltringham had available on his behalf Thursday. Frank DeLorenzo, an advocate for the Army Wounded Warrior program and Tim DeWolf of the Ghost Rider Foundation, a non-profit organization which supports armed service individuals with PTSD, have become involved, Hura said. DeWolf and three veterans were in the courtroom Thursday and Hura wanted some of them to have a chance to speak about combat PTSD and the importance of treatment.
Washam set another hearing for 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 23 to hear from the veterans.
Hura said he also intends at that hearing to again request Eltringham's bond be lowered so he can be taken to a Veterans Administration lock-down facility in Cleveland where he can receive proper treatment for PTSD while awaiting trial. Eltringham has been held on $500,000 bond since the alleged crime occurred in mid-August 2011.
Eltringham is accused of going to the home of Robert Kastelic, a retired math teacher and World War II veteran, who he was friendly with in the past. Kastelic testified at a preliminary hearing two weeks after the incident that he had tutored Eltringham in the past and helped the Eltringham family through the American Legion Post that Kastelic belongs to. As the visit was coming to an end, Eltringham allegedly grabbed the 86-year-old Kastelic by the neck, threatened to kill him and severely beat him over a 30-minute time frame. Next he is accused of taking $400 from Kastelic's wallet, asking to be allowed to keep a ladder he had previously borrowed from Kastelic and went after paperwork for Kastelic's pickup and his home. Finally, he allegedly threatened to kill Kastelic if he told anyone what happened.
Eltringham is charged with aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony; felonious assault, a second-degree felony; and intimidation, a third-degree felony.
According to Hura, Eltringham is a 23-year member of the Army National Guard and had just returned from his third overseas tour of duty in six years when the alleged crimes occurred. According to records provided by Hura, Eltringham was deployed in Kosovo from June 2004 to February 2005 and again from April 2007 to December 2008, both times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He also served in Afghanistan from June 2010 to June 2011.
Kastelic served in the Navy as a navigator for landing ships in the area of the Philippines and Okinawa.