From Fox News By RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Defenders of a former Army sergeant say he truly believed he was fighting the Taliban bomber who blew off his friend's limbs when he emptied 24 rounds from his 9 mm handgun at police and firefighters who were responding to a fire in his apartment.
Psychologists testified that Joshua Eisenhauer returned from Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress that made him a paranoid, hyper-vigilant insomniac, and so delusional that he drew his weapon whenever anyone came to his door in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
They say untreated PTSD could scramble his mind beyond repair if he spends the rest of his sentence, up to 18 years, in Raleigh Central Prison.
"The only place where he belongs is one where he can get treatment for his PTSD," said Eisenhauer's father, Mark. "That was what caused all of this. This never should have happened in the first place."
North Carolina is now considering enabling judges to consider PTSD as a specific mitigating factor when sentencing military veterans like Eisenhauer, despite criticism that such measures are unnecessary and could end up harming people with the disorder.
As many as one in five veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan develop post-traumatic stress disorder each year, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
"I would hope the public policy of our state would be that we care about our veterans enough to do this for them," said state Rep. Billy Richardson, whose district includes more than 57,000 military personnel at Ft. Bragg, one of the world's largest military complexes.
Richardson's bill was approved by the House Judiciary Committee this session, which ends Friday.
Most states lack such a law. Among them is Texas, where the well-documented PTSD of Eddie Ray Routh didn't save him from life in prison without parole in the killing of "American Sniper" Chris Kyle and another veteran.
California, Kansas and Oklahoma do allow a court to consider post-traumatic stress disorder as a mitigating factor when sentencing a veteran in a criminal case. North Dakota lawmakers ordered a study of the issue last year.