PTSD may play role in soldier's defense at murder trial

LANCE BENZEL Updated: September 13, 2012 at 12:00 am • Published: September 13, 2012

A Fort Carson soldier accused of killing an unarmed man outside a Colorado Springs motorcycle club appears likely to argue at trial that he suffers the effects of combat stress and war injuries.

Christopher Anthony Mountjoy, 31, of Fountain, pleaded not guilty Thursday to aggravated robbery and first-degree murder in the March 3 shooting-death of Virgil Means on the city’s near-west side.

Means, also 31, was wounded in the head during an apparent ambush outside the Sin City Disciples Motorcycle Club, 628 W. Vermijo Ave.

Portions of Vermijo Avenue had been barricaded near the entrance to the club — which a member described to Colorado Springs police as a “1-percenter” outlaw biker gang — and shooters crouched low behind a trash bin and slow-moving cars while directing a hail of gunfire at a Cadillac in which Means was a passenger, according to previous court testimony by Colorado Springs police detectives.

Mountjoy, an active-duty soldier who also reportedly served as sergeant-at-arms for the local Sin City Disciples, is accused of firing the fatal bullet.

He is due for trial on Feb. 4. Five other men also are charged in the killing, including at least two more Fort Carson soldiers.

At a brief arraignment Thursday, public defender Cindy Hyatt advised the court she intends to call an expert to testify about features of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, though she offered few details.

Prosecutor Margaret Vellar argued the declaration should trigger a mental health evaluation by the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo, but Hyatt countered it wasn’t required under the law.

Fourth Judicial District Judge William Bain set an Oct. 4 hearing to determine if Mountjoy should be examined before the defense is allowed.

Details of Mountjoy’s combat history weren’t disclosed. He is a staff sergeant with the 1st Brigade Combat Team, which returned from a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan in the summer of 2011.

Hyatt declined to comment after the hearing, saying a court-imposed “gag order” prevents her from publicly discussing any aspect of the case.

Police say Means, 31, had been beaten by a group of men outside the club and was returning to retrieve a missing wallet when he was ambushed by several Sin City gunmen in a coordinated attack.

Contact Lance Benzel: 636-0366 Twitter @lancebenzel

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