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Article updated: 9/26/2012 10:08 PM

Judge to allow stress disorder testimony at Wheaton murder trial

Wheaton Army veteran faces murder charge

By Josh Stockinger

A DuPage County judge will allow testimony that a Wheaton man has post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from a 1980s military accident when he stands trial on first-degree murder charges.

Defense attorneys say the condition may have caused Michael Delaney to believe he was acting in self-defense when he stabbed neighbor Micheal Scalzo during a June 2009 confrontation in Wheaton.

Over prosecutors' objection Wednesday, Judge Daniel Guerin ruled in favor of allowing a psychologist to testify that Delaney experiences "hyper-arousal and overreaction to perceived threats." The judge, however, said he would not allow more speculative testimony from the doctor that Delaney wouldn't have committed the offense if not for PTSD.

Delaney, a 49-year-old Army veteran, cites a 1982 military accident he witnessed in California's Mojave Desert, along with a car crash, as the causes of his stress condition. The military accident, which involved paratroopers in an exercise known as Operation Gallant Eagle, reportedly left eight dead and more than 150 injured.

Delaney is accused of fatally stabbing the 40-year-old Scalzo after the victim gave refuge to Delaney's ex-girlfriend, who had left him about a week before the slaying.

Prosecutors said the woman was with Scalzo in a garage near his home on Crescent Street when Delaney, who lived nearby, shouted threats at her and other people there. They said Scalzo confronted Delaney about the threats and was repeatedly stabbed as he tried to walk away.

The defense, meanwhile, has portrayed Scalzo as the aggressor, and Delaney's attorney, Assistant Public Defender Brian Jacobs, has said he would seek a lesser finding of second-degree murder for his client at trial.

Delaney returns to court Oct. 17.

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