Expert witness: Narcissism, not trauma, sparked shootings
Ryan Summerlin March 16, 2012
GEORGETOWN, Colorado – Vietnam trauma had nothing to do with Richard “Rossi” Moreau’s shooting rampage, a psychiatrist said Thursday.
“No U.S. military man is trained to walk through an area and shoot people who are wounded on the ground,” said Dr. Richard Pounds, a forensic psychiatrist who examined Moreau at the District Court’s request.
Moreau showed no symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder when he committed the Sandbar shootings; he showed symptoms of narcissism, Pounds said.
“Alcohol was present. How much is not clear, but it was not enough that he did not know what he was doing,” Pounds said.
Pounds was testifying as a rebuttal expert witness for the prosecution.
“I don’t know how someone who was living independently, who was successful and wearing a three-piece suit on his way to give a motivational talk before showing any symptoms, could be diagnosed with PTSD,” Pounds said. “He was skiing, living the life he wanted to.”
Moreau said his depression was keeping him from skiing, the love of his life, but told Pounds that he skied 150 days, Pounds said.
“I would wonder how debilitating a condition can be when someone is skiing 150 days,” Pounds said.
Moreau was in declining function for the 12-18 months before the shootings, Pounds said.
‘The right things to say’
The typical PTSD shows up in six months, Pounds said. Moreau claimed his PTSD didn’t show up for years.
Pounds said a 10-year lapse is “rare, to say the least.”
Moreau told Pounds he became aware of PTSD through television ads, Pounds said. He was walking to give a talk when he heard a car backfire, and told Pounds it triggered a cascade of PTSD symptoms, Poundss said.
Pounds said he finds it hard to believe that, given Moreau’s habit of carrying firearms and his outdoor lifestyle, that he had not heard something like the sound of a firearm going off before that.
Anyone who memorizes the list of symptoms can list them as a reason for something happening, Pounds said.
In the late 1970s, veterans organizations became aware of PTSD and began inundating veterans with information and “the right things to say” to apply for disability, Pounds said.
“People can be coached with these symptoms,” Pounds said. “A good malingerer, I’ll never catch him.”
The path of least resistance was to give veterans 10 percent disability, the amount Moreau was getting before he started working with Darlene Hoffman, a local counselor, Pounds said. None of Moreau’s problems and symptoms predate their relationship, Pounds said.
Afterward, Moreau managed to get full disability.
“Gee, my business is doing poorly. I really need that extra disability,” Pounds quoted Moreau as saying.
Narcissism, Pounds said, is demonstrated by a heightened sense of entitlement, an inflated sense of self, being manipulative, self-aggrandizement and showing little or no empathy.
The Sandbar shootings happened a few days before Veterans Day and Moreau wanted everyone to know he was a veteran, so he could receive the accolades he said he deserved, Pounds said.
He was frustrated because of the accolades for the returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, Pounds said.
“He wanted his due,” Pounds said.
When that didn’t happen, he became frustrated. When he was thrown out of the bar it was another knock against his narcissistic nature. He lashed out and became violent, Pounds said.
In his report, Pounds called Moreau a “bitter, resentful man.”
Moreau claimed to have a PTSD blackout, but there is no evidence that those even exist, Pounds said. In fact, his patients who have PTSD can tell him exactly what is happening and how it reminds them of their trauma – but they don’t black out, Pounds said.
Pounds pointed out that Moreau’s blackouts begin when his trouble begins, and end when the trouble is over.
Also, people with PTSD tend to avoid the kinds of people and situations that might have triggered it, Pounds said. Moreau, however, embraces his military experience – he wore military hats, and in fact was wearing a green jungle safari hat the night of the shootings. He had insignias on his clothing and car, and he carried firearms almost all the time, Pounds said.
“Mr. Moreau never disassociated himself from any of that,” Pounds said.
Moreau complained of sleep disorders, including nightmares.
“How many nightmares did he experience while he was being evaluated?” asked Steve Mallory, the prosecutor leading the questioning of Pounds.
“Zero,” Pounds said, adding that their motion and sound sensors that would alert them.