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Lawyers seek corrected sentence for Fort Bragg soldier suffering from PTSD

By GREG BARNES | The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer (Tribune News Service) | Published: August 19, 2015

A lawyer for Fort Bragg Staff Sgt. Joshua Eisenhauer has filed a motion seeking to correct a sentence handed down Aug. 6 that landed Eisenhauer in prison for up to 18 years for shooting at police and firefighters in 2012.

In his motion for appropriate relief, lawyer Larry McGlothlin argues that the state did not substantially rebut defense testimony that Eisenhauer suffers from severe post-traumatic stress disorder and needs immediate professional treatment. The motion was filed Monday afternoon in Cumberland County Superior Court.

Eisenhauer pleaded guilty in February to shooting at police and firefighters after they responded to a report of a fire at Austin Creek Apartments in west Fayetteville on Jan. 13, 2012. Police shot Eisenhauer four times during a standoff. Police and firefighters escaped serious injury.

On Aug. 6, Cumberland County Superior Court Judge Jim Ammons sentenced Eisenhauer to between 10 and 18 years in prison after listening to about four hours of testimony.

Among those who testified, psychiatrist G. Martin Woodard said that on the night of the incident, Eisenhauer suffered from severe PTSD that was exacerbated by alcohol and anti-anxiety medications.

Martin said Eisenhauer risks never being able to fully recover if he doesn't receive professional help soon.

That assessment was supported in a letter by an N.C. Department of Correction psychiatrist, Dr. Michael Larson, who wrote that staff at the N.C. Department of Correction are not trained to treat PTSD and that Eisenhauer could not receive adequate treatment in prison.

To keep him behind bars would constitute cruel and unusual punishment, McGlothlin argued in his motion.

McGlothlin wrote that Eisenhauer's sentence was not supported by a report from the N.C. Department of Public Safety's presentence diagnostic committee. The report is not a public document.

The motion seeks a corrected "split sentence" in which Eisenhauer would be given credit for time served and put on probation.

Cumberland County District Attorney Billy West said Tuesday he could not comment on a pending motion.

In testimony during sentencing, prosecutor Robby Hicks said firefighters talked briefly with Eisenhauer on his balcony before he went into his apartment and refused to come back out. After police knocked down the door, Eisenhauer began shooting, Hicks said, and at one point made an obscene gesture toward the people who were trying to help him.

Lawyers, family members and psychiatrists contend that Eisenhauer's severe PTSD and addiction to a prescription anti-anxiety medication caused him to have a flashback, believing he was shooting at enemy insurgents in Afghanistan.

The lawyers say Eisenhauer awoke in a hospital bed and demanded to know, "Who's got the roof."

Hicks painted another picture of Eisenhauer, saying he was arrested for assaults on a police officer in 2004 in Texas and in 2002 in San Diego. Hicks said Eisenhauer received a waiver to join the Army after the incident in Texas.

Eisenhauer's blood-alcohol content on the night he shot at police and firefighters measured .13, Hicks said. A person with a blood-alcohol content of .08 is considered too drunk to drive in North Carolina.

Research shows that people with PTSD are more prone to abuse alcohol.

Staff writer Greg Barnes can be reached at barnesg@fayobserver.com or 486-3525.

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©2015 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.)
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