Iraq War Vet Charged In Deadly Shooting 'Did Not Know Wrongfulness Of Actions,' Doctor Finds

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Cuyahoga County Jail

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- An Iraq War veteran accused of murder and other charges suffered from severe mental illness at the time he gunned down a woman after a traffic crash, a doctor in the court's psychiatric clinic has found.


Matthew Desha, 31, who has been treated for post-traumatic stress disorder and believes the Illuminati, God, and Satan are intervening in his case, "did not know the wrongfulness of his actions" when he used an AR-15 to kill Deborah Pearl, Dr. Aileen Hernandez found in a report delivered to the court earlier this month.

  • Cuyahoga County prosecutors reject Hernandez's findings and hired an "independent psychiatric expert" to examine Desha, according to court filings.
  • Common Pleas Court Judge Kathleen ANn Sutula ordered that doctor, whose name is not in court records, to deliver a report to her by Nov. 1.
  • Hernandez's findings come after Sutula determined that Desha is competent to stand to trial and could pave the way for Desha to plead not guilty by reason of insanity.
  • Prosecutors say Desha ran a red light in his Jeep on Som Center Road and struck Pearl's car about 7:30 a.m. Aug. 27, 2016, as the 53-year-old mother of three drove to work. Desha's Jeep flipped upside down, and witnesses said he got out of his truck with the rifle and shot Pearl as she held her hands up in the air, prosecutors said.
  • He shot at other cars as they passed, prosecutors say.
  • Desha was arrested later that day and has been jailed on $1 million bond ever since.
  • Three doctors who examined Desha testified at a June competency hearing that the two-tour combat veteran is haunted by recurring visions of warfare. He severely abused marijuana and alcohol after his return home and grew so delusional that he believed Hillary Clinton was a child rapist and Donald Trump could only defeat her in the 2016 presidential election if Desha cleaned his room well enough, testimony showed.
  • If the doctor that prosecutors hire find Desha did know the severity of his actions, Sutula would have to hold a hearing to determine if he is eligible to enter the plea.

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©2018 Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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