It's nearly impossible to tell if a former soldier convicted of killing an Iraqi family has brain damage because of the method used to scan his brain, a neurologist testified Tuesday.
Dr. Helen Mayberg, a professor at Emory University in Atlanta, said the wrong protocols were used during an MRI of former Pfc. Steven Dale Green. Instead of what amounted to a complete scan of Green's brain, his MRI included pauses between each scan, Mayberg said.
I first ran into Dr. Mayberg in a brain injury case I tried before a jury in the early 1990s. She adamantly said that Positron Emission Tomography (PET) was not useful for corroborating diagnosis of brain injury caused by trauma. Dr. Joseph Wu of UC Irvine said it was one tool used among the others available. The PET scan Dr. Wu performed was allowed into evidence by the court.
It is very interesting to note that so-called experts hired by defense lawyer firms come up with the same type of testimony in virtually every case. What ever the treating or plaintiff's expert says is "wrong."
While hired in a criminal case:
Prosecutors called Mayberg to the stand to rebut the May 12 testimony of Ruben Gur, director of neuropsychology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
Gur, called by the defense, reviewed a 2008 MRI and found Green has brain damage. He made the diagnosis after comparing Green's MRI to scans from 41 other men of roughly the same age without brain injuries. People with such injuries have "major difficulties" restraining their impulses, he said.
Defense attorneys have argued that Green's lack of impulse control was a factor in him taking part in the slayings of the al-Janabi family.
Defense attorney Scott Wendelsdorf, while questioning Mayberg, said MRI's don't necessarily tell the entire story of what is happening in someone's brain.
"A normal MRI doesn't mean nothing is wrong with a brain, does it?" Wendelsdorf asked.
"That's a very true statement," Mayberg said.