Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough judge asked to send ex-Marine Scott Sciple to Texas rehab center

TAMPA — A brain-damaged ex-Marine who last May was sent to a mental hospital rather than prison for DUI manslaughter may find himself released to the outside world sooner than anyone expected.

Scott Sciple, a former Marine captain who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries when he drove the wrong way on Interstate 275 two years ago, killing a 48-year-old father of five. His blood-alcohol level was three times the level at which the state presumes someone is impaired.

Last year, the Marine Corps made an extraordinary admission that it failed to diagnose and treat Sciple for his combat-related brain injuries and never should have sent him to MacDill Air Force Base. The crash happened on Aug. 25, 2010, only days after his arrival.

In May, the widow of crash victim Pedro Rivera told a judge she was convinced Sciple needed medical care more than a prison sentence. "We can't just keep doing things to people who need help," Carmen Rodriguez said.

Hillsborough Circuit Judge Lisa Campbell agreed to send Sciple to Poplar Springs Psychiatric Hospital in Petersburg, Va., a locked facility that specializes in military-related disorders. He could have been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

On Friday, the judge was told that Sciple has exhausted his insurance coverage and can no longer stay at the hospital, where the cost of his care is $1,000 per day.

Defense attorney John Fitzgibbons said Sciple has been accepted by a combat rehabilitation center in Galveston, Texas, under the sponsorship of a nonprofit group called Project Victory.

But to be eligible, Sciple would have to spend 30 days outside a facility. Fitzgibbons asked Campbell to allow Sciple to stay with his parents in Alabama for a month. Sciple would wear alcohol and GPS monitors while at his parents' home and would abide by a curfew.

As part of Sciple's sentence, he is supposed to serve two years of community control. But Fitzgibbons said Sciple's doctors have concluded that he needs to attempt to function in society as part of his rehabilitation. His time with his parents would include visits to a nearby gym and an effort at beginning community service.

Fitzgibbons asked for the Friday hearing because many courtrooms will be closed during the Republican National Convention next week. But Campbell said she couldn't agree to any plan without more information.

She said she will need confirmation from the state Department of Corrections that the transfer is acceptable, and she will need assurances of cooperation from authorities in Alabama and Texas.

"I don't want him to become a victim of the system," she said.

Campbell set another hearing for Sept. 14 and said she wanted Sciple to participate through a video call from Virginia.

John Barry can be reached at (813) 226-3383 or

Hillsborough judge asked to send ex-Marine Scott Sciple to Texas rehab center 08/24/12 [Last modified: Friday, August 24, 2012 10:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays morning after: Wilson Ramos showing glimpses of what's possible in 2018


    The real payoff for the Rays signing C Wilson Ramos last off-season will come in 2018, when he can play a full season fully recovered from right knee surgery.

    And Ramos is giving the Rays a pretty good glimpse of what that can be like.

    In Friday's 8-3 win over the Orioles, he hit a grand slam - …

  2. Buccaneers-Vikings Scouting Report: Watching Kyle Rudolph, Adam Thielen and Everson Griffen


    No matter how much film we study, no matter how much data we parse, we just don't know how an NFL season will unfold.

  3. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  4. Sue Carlton: Job or family when a hurricane's coming — a very Florida conundrum


    It must seem as foreign to Northerners as shoveling snow is to those of us raised in the Sunshine State: The very-Florida conundrum of having to choose between work and family — between paycheck and personal safety — when a hurricane comes.

    A hurricane helps the rest of us acknowledge the police officers, paramedics, hospital personnel, public works employees and others who stay on the job despite the storm. 
  5. After Tampa concert, Arcade Fire members party, preach politics at Crowbar


    After waiting more than a decade for Arcade Fire’s first appearance in Tampa, fans didn’t have to wait long for their second.

    DJ Windows 98, a.k.a. singer Win Butler of Arcade Fire, performed at a "Disco Town Hall" at Crowbar following the band's concert at the USF Sun Dome on Sept. 22, 2017.