LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kevin Wayne Dunlap‘s decision to plead guilty to killing three children and attacking a woman in her home near Fort Campbell caught his attorneys by surprise. Now, they think they understand why.
Defense attorneys say the former special operations soldier is missing the frontal lobe in his brain that controls impulses and decision making. The damage rendered Dunlap incompetent to plead guilty to a capital offense, defense attorney Kathleen Schmidt wrote in a brief to the Kentucky Supreme Court, which will hear arguments in Dunlap’s case Aug. 16 in Frankfort.
….Dr. Robert Friedland, chair of the Department of Neurology at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, said damage to the right frontal lobe could impact inhibition, personality, reasoning and judgment. Someone with frontal lobe damage may have trouble comprehending what he is doing at a certain time if his situation changes suddenly, said Friedland, who is not involved in Dunlap’s case.
“The overwhelming majority of people never commit any homicidal or other criminal acts. It’s an extraordinary event for any act to be directly associated with a lesion of the brain,” Friedman said. “It’s not completely unknown, though. They consider things like this when deciding what penalty to give.”