Sargent Binkley, a 33-year-old Los Altos resident who robbed a Mountain View Walgreens three years ago, faces 12 to 15 years in prison unless a jury finds that he was legally insane during the crime.
On Monday, the jury will hear testimony from six court-appointed psychiatrists. Two of them say Binkley was legally insane during the crime due to the chronic pain he suffers from a war wound, while the other four say he was not.
If the jury finds Binkley was legally insane during the crime, he could be appointed to a state hospital, said deputy district attorney Deborah Medved. If not, the state's minimum sentence for robbery with a firearm is 12 years in prison.
"We don't think that's wrong to ask for special consideration for soldiers," said defense attorney Chuck Smith. "The DA's office has had a different view — they loaded up everything they could against him."
Binkley reportedly became addicted to painkillers while suffering from PTSD and an undiagnosed hip injury he received during his military service. The West Point graduate attended Los Altos High School, where he was thought of as a mellow, athletic honor student.
In January 2006, Binkley held up the Walgreens pharmacy on the corner of El Camino Real and Grant Road with an unloaded gun. In March he did the same at a Walgreens in San Carlos. He eventually turned himself in.
The jury deliberated for four days before reaching the verdict late Tuesday morning. The deciding factors were whether Binkley "used a gun as defined by law." The defense argued that the gun wasn't brandished in a "menacing way." Smith also argued that Binkley should be charged with robbing one Walgreens employee, not two, as he was charged.
Despite this, the jury decided unanimously to convict on all charges.
"I feel that the jury worked very hard on this verdict," said Medved. "I'm satisfied they came to the right conclusion."
The Mountain View Walgreens pharmacist Binkley robbed, Dennis Pinheiro, wrote a letter to the court in support of Binkley. According to Pinheiro's description of the event, Binkley was "calm" and "did not use physical or verbal force," though Pinheiro certainly didn't want to test him.
Binkley's hip fracture went undiagnosed for three years by Veterans Administration doctors, which lead to him being "hopelessly addicted" to painkillers, said his father Ed Binkley.
Binkley also used the painkillers to "self medicate" his PTSD, family members say. He was particularly haunted by two experiences: guarding mass graves in Bosnia, and being ordered to open fire on a truck with a teenager inside during anti-drug operations in Honduras.
"He basically couldn't sleep," his father said. "He would wake up screaming."
Binkley has been out on bail and living in a drug treatment facility.
Separate proceedings are underway in San Mateo County for the San Carlos robbery.