Sailor Richard R. Mott arrived for duty on the U.S.S. Cape George on March 6, 2007. Two days later, with no apparent provocation, he attacked and stabbed another sailor who was eating breakfast.
Mott explained his actions this way, according to a new ruling by the U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals:
"(Mott) apparently believed that in the summer of 2003, the victim and upwards of fifteen unknown males lept 'from the closet of his girlfriend’s apartment and raped him. The men shoved 'an unknown liquid and powder' in the appellant’s anus and then began 'cutting his anus with small plastic pieces.'"
Ever since, Mott said he had been wary of getting jumped again. He needed to protect himself. One problem, though: there was no evidence Mott and his victim had ever actually met. Mott was a head case, suffering from paranoid delusions.
But was he capable of understanding his act of violence; that is to say, was he morally culpable and legally responsible? A defense witness appeared to be equivocal, contending Mott was a paranoid schizophrenic but then under cross-examination stating Mott knew what he was doing. The prosecutors had a potential psychiatric expert of their own, who likewise agreed Mott was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. This witness was never called, and his conclusions never divulged to the defense.
Mott 's attorney on appeal, Navy Lt. Sarah E. Harris, was able to convince the appellate panel to overturn the court martial verdict and order a new hearing. Reasoned the court:
"We have no doubt that knowledge of the existence of a Government medical expert whose professional opinion wholly supported the opinion of the defense expert is a fact both favorable to the appellant and material to an assessment of his guilt and/or punishment."