September 4, 2013 – The client, a soldier in the United States Army, was the turret gunner in a tank that was blown over by an IED in Iraq. After that he hurried home to Modesto for a preplanned leave. Four days after the tank explosion he was in a bar where an altercation broke out. Acting on the instincts he had learned in war, he stabbed two people.
Specialist Carlos Melendez was later found to have been suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). Kirk McAllister presented a novel defense based on that diagnosis. Dramatic testimony highlighted Melendez’ upbringing in war-torn Nicaragua through his heroic exploits in Iraq, where he saved the lives of many of his fellow-soldiers. He received numerous decorations for those actions.
Based on this defense the judge reduced the charges to misdemeanors.
This decision allowed CPL Melendez to fulfill his twin goals: to stay in the Army and to gain his citizenship. Melendez stated, “If I die in combat, I want to be buried as a United States citizen.”
The case was hard-fought but the defense was victorious. Asked for a comment, Melendez said, “Mr. McAllister is a soldier for justice.”(Stanislaus County Superior Court, Case No. 1418559)