Iraq war blamed for Navy man’s crime

A 27-year-old former Navy man who assaulted and seriously injured a man at an Oak Harbor nightclub last summer was suffering from psychological problems after three tours in Iraq, court documents indicate.

After reviewing psychological reports, a deputy prosecutor offered Bo Thomas Shuck a relatively lenient plea bargain, which he accepted.

Shuck pleaded guilty by way of an Alford plea in Island County Superior Court April 19 to assault in the fourth degree. An Alford plea means Shuck doesn’t admit his guilt, but acknowledges that the prosecution has enough evidence to convince a jury to find him guilty.

Judge Alan Hancock agreed with the recommendations and handed Shuck a 30-day jail sentence.

Prosecutors originally charged Shuck with assault in the second degree, which carries a standard range sentence of three to nine months in jail.

Deputy Prosecutor David Carman explained that two mental health experts agreed that Shuck displayed many, but not all, of the characteristics of post-traumatic stress disorder. During his tours in Iraq, he was the target of rocket-propelled grenade attacks, but he wasn’t hurt, court documents state.

According to Carman, the unusual facts of the case could be seen to either support or negate a capacity defense based on Shuck’s war-related psychological issues. He said the plea bargain was a fair compromise in which Shuck takes responsibility, but that also takes into consideration the mental issues contributing to the assault.

Shuck, an off-duty bouncer at the Element Nightclub, attacked the victim for no apparent reason. Shuck did not know the 30-year-old sailor and had no previous contact with him, but told a witness that he thought the man gave him a “funny look,” court documents indicate.

Shuck punched the man several times, then got on top of him after he fell and continued punching him in the face, the police reports states. The victim suffered seven fractures to his eye socket and underwent surgery at Madigan Army Hospital to repair the damage.

Carman said the victim, who is currently deployed, made a full recovery and was restored to flight status.

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