Fmr. Army Capt. found not guilty by insanity

January 13, 2009 7:33:45 PM PST
Former Army Captain Sargent Binkley waited anxiously for two and a half days while the jury wrestled with the question of whether or not he had a mental illness aggravated by post traumatic stress disorder when he robbed a Walgreens pharmacy in 2006.

The jury decided he did, resulting in their verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Ed Binkley told ABC7 he gave his son a big hug and both cried.

"I haven't seen his eyes light up like that since before he went into the army," Ed Binkley said.

The decorated West Point graduate served in Bosnia where he says he witnessed atrocities and came home suffering from undiagnosed PTSD.

Binkley said he robbed a Mountain View Walgreens carrying an unloaded gun to steal painkillers, which military doctors had once prescribed for a fractured hip.

In a jailhouse interview with ABC7 last year, Binkley said his mental state was so bad, he didn't know what he was doing.

"The best way to explain it is just an utter hopelessness," Binkley said. "Taking narcotic painkillers relieved me of stress and enabled me to hide from nasty dreams and flashbacks I was having."

Because Binkley used a gun in the robbery, he faced a long mandatory prison sentence.

"He would have gone to prison for 12 years minimum; thank god, he won't see a day in prison," Binkley's attorney Chuck Smith said.

"The defendant will be evaluated for appropriate mental health treatment and if appropriate will be placed in a state mental hospital," deputy district attorney Deborah Medved said.

Smith will ask the judge to order him instead to an outpatient rehab program.

Smith hopes this case sets a precedent for veterans suffering from PTSD who are charged with crimes.

Binkley still faces charges in San Mateo County stemming from an armed robbery of a Walgreens in San Carlos. Prosecutors there told ABC7 they are looking at the outcome of this trial to see if it has any impact on their case.