A defense lawyer representing Nathaniel Fujita, who is accused of murdering his girlfriend, Lauren Astley, is claiming that the concussions he suffered as a football player in high school and prior to that led him to commit the crime.
Attorney William Sullivan alleged Fujita suffers from ‘chronic traumatic encephalopathy,’ which has left him prone to commit such crimes.
He introduced an expert witness, Rhode Island Hospital forensic psychiatrist Wade Myer, to support that defense in Middlesex Superior Court.
“Nathaniel had been playing football at least since he was 11,” Myer said at the trial. “He was getting his head hit half a dozen times a season, pretty significantly where everything would turn white. If you repeatedly subject the brain to these things, this pattern of getting hit, over and over and over again, you start to develop chronic brain problems.”
David Rossman, director of the Boston University School of Law’s Criminal Law Clinic Program, told the Boston Herald that he has not heard of another lawyer using repeated concussions as a defense. But, he added, it will likely become something lawyers begin exploring as concussions in sports gain more notoriety.
“It’s going to be something else to think about,” Rossman reportedly said. “Now it will be part of the background questions we ask: ‘Have you played football?’ We’ll order the court to pay for CAT scans.”