HANFORD, Calif. – A Marine who followed orders to photograph corpses of Iraqis allegedly slain by members of his unit last fall claims post-traumatic stress drove him to commit felonies while on leave, his mother said.
Lance Cpl. Roel Ryan Briones, 21, is accused of stealing a truck and crashing it into a house in Hanford in April.
He was charged Friday with felony auto theft, hit-and-run and drunken driving, according to Kings County District Attorney Ronald Calhoun.
Briones' mother, Susie, told The Fresno Bee this week that her son hit his breaking point during the April incident.
His best friend was killed Nov. 19, the day of the attack in the western Iraqi city of Haditha, and he was still grieving when he was sent in to clean up the bodies of the Iraqi civilians.
Susie Briones said her son told her he saw the bodies of 23 dead Iraqis that day. Twenty-four were slain.
U.S. authorities have launched two investigations — one into the deadly encounter itself and another into whether it was the subject of a cover-up.
Ryan Briones is seeing a psychologist in San Diego to help deal with the stress, and military officials are aware of his deteriorating mental health, his mother said.
Calhoun said he was aware of Briones' situation, adding that the Marine has agreed to be evaluated by a psychiatrist to determine whether he has post-traumatic stress and whether it played a role in the alleged crime.
Briones, who has returned to Camp Pendleton, is scheduled to appear in court June 19. The Fresno Bee said he could not be reached for comment Friday.