Posted on December 29, 2012 · Posted in Brain Injury

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder a Contributing Factor in Wife’s Death?

A wounded Iraqi war veteran shot his wife, a Wisconsin police officer, five times in the head on Christmas Eve.  Ultimately, a jury will have to decide what part post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will a mitigating factor in this tragic case.

Benjamin Sebena, 30, has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide. He stalked his wife, Wauwatosa Police Officer Jennifer Sebena, 30, and then shot her once in the back of the head with his gun, and four times in the face with her own service weapon, according to the charges reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Benjamin Sebena is a decorated Marine, a veteran of the invasion of Iraq in 2003.  What’s unique about Sebena is when he got back to the states, he did a video where he talked about his experiences in combat. It did not paint a pretty picture.

When he was questioned by police following the slaying of his wife, Sebena talked about issues relating to PTSD, according to a report by CBS 58 Milwaukee.

In the video he did for a church group in 2010, Sebena said, “I’ve been to dark places.”

He talked about being trained to kill, and how he sustained horrific injuries from a mortar shell, a shell that killed one of his friends. Sebena, pants bloody, said that he could see his knee cap and that one of his arms was hanging off his body by a few tendons.

I don’t know if Sebena sustained a concussion, though it seems possible since the mortar shell exploded not far from him.

In all, Sebena said that he saw 50 fellow soldiers die during his two tours.

In his video, he also talked about the anxiety he felt back at home.

Attorneys have used PTSD as a defense in criminal cases, and I’m sure it will be a strategy in Sebena’s case. There have been a number of cases  where Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have killed their wives.

Perhaps if we took better care of our veterans when they come home from combat, there would be less such violence.



About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447