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Lawyer says post-traumatic stress disorder drives insanity defense for former police officer


MANY, Louisiana — A lawyer for a former Natchitoches police officer accused of killing a fellow member of the Louisiana Army National Guard says post-traumatic stress disorder justifies his insanity defense.

KSLA-TV reports (http://bit.ly/1LFsNTv ) jury selection is scheduled Monday in Opelousas in the capital murder trial of Robert Barthelemy. The jury is being chosen in St. Landry Parish because of pre-trial publicity in Sabine Parish, but will hear the case in Many.

Barthelemy is accused of kidnapping Tony Procell in 2013, killing him and burying him in the Kisatchie National Forest. Barthelemy pleaded not guilty, but later changed his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity.

Attorney Richard Goorley described Barthelemy as a soldier broken by war and tormented by combat memories.

"The person that we have examine him, who does this every day for the VA, has stated that it's the worst case he's ever seen," Goorley said.

The lawyer said Barthelemy believed Procell had impregnated Barthelemy's estranged wife.

"Mr. Barthelemy believed his wife was pregnant. And when he found out, that you know, then he found out that his wife might be pregnant from another man that he knew and trusted."

Goorley said Barthelemy went to Procell's home the night of August 20, 2013 to talk things out with Procell. "And things happened during that incident that caused the PTSD to kick in and caused this tragic incident," said Goorley.

As for what may have caused Barthelemy's PTSD to kick in, Goorley said, "That's what I'm not going to disclose at this time, saving that for trial."

Sabine Parish District Attorney Don Burkett and Procell's relatives declined comment.

Police said home surveillance footage shows Barthelemy leading Procell away at gunpoint. Barthelemy was taken into custody the following morning after a high-speed chase and standoff that ended on Highway 177 west of I-49 in DeSoto Parish.

Five days later, on August 25, Procell's body was found in a shallow grave near the edge of Saline Lake in the Kisatchie National Forest, reportedly beaten to death with a baseball bat. The body was found after Barthelemy's father-in-law found a shovel caked with fresh mud in a Winn Parish area where he and his son-in-law had hunted together.

Information from: KSLA-TV, http://ksla.com

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