More medical experts testify in soldier's trial
WIESBADEN, Germany — Friday’s testimony in the trial of Pvt. Charles Savage was a battle of expert witnesses.
The prosecution attempted to counter defense experts who testified that Pvt. Charles Savage was a parasomniac, who attacked a German friend while sleepwalking.
On Friday, Dr. (Lt. Col.) David Benedek testified that the psychologist who conducted Savage’s sanity board — a psychological and psychiatric mental health evaluation — didn’t do a thorough job in locating records before diagnosing the soldier as a parasomniac.
Defense attorney David Court objected that the prosecution should have challenged the psychologist’s testimony on cross-examination, “but to try to impeach a witness no longer on the stand … to sandbag and call it rebuttal is unfair.”
On Thursday, Lt. Col. (Dr.) Gary Southwell, chief of psychological services at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, testified that Savage suffers from parasomnia, a sleep condition that includes sleepwalking. In this sleepwalking state, Savage stabbed Kerstin Macri then tried to choke her as she fought back, the defense claimed. Savage neither knew what he did nor remembered the incident. which occurred last April 11, Court has argued.
Savage’s court-martial began Wednesday, with the soldier being charged with assault with intent to kill. Prosecutors Capt. Alison Gregoire and Capt. Laura Calese contend that Savage deliberately attacked Macri and presented medical experts including Benedek to rebut the defense witness.
After Court objected to Benedek’s testimony, Gregoire replied, “I don’t think (the prosecution) witness should do less because the defense witness did less.” The military judge, Col. Denise Lind, allowed Benedek to continue.
Benedek testified that he found a redeployment questionnaire on which Savage stated “on multiple, specific questions” that he had no sleepwalking episodes. Benedek also cited Savage’s lack of childhood sleepwalking episodes and the complexity of the attack as further evidence that Savage is not a parasomniac.
He also cited records that Savage had been discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps for not revealing he took drugs for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). All those reasons, “gave me pause,” Benedek said, adding that he was “not comfortable reaching a diagnosis” that Savage was parasomniac.
Under cross-examination by Court, Benedek conceded that he has no certificate for sleep medicine and has less extensive credentials on the subject than the psychologist who diagnosed Savage as a parasomniac.
Benedek also conceded that he did not interview Savage or Macri and did not hear Macri’s testimony. Court also pointed out that Savage, in not revealing that he had ADD, wasn’t faking an illness to escape duty, but trying to cover one up to go on active duty.
The case went to the jury late Friday afternoon without Savage taking the stand in his defense.