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Marine charged with DUI now tied to suspected break-in

TAMPA — About six weeks after authorities say Marine Corps Capt. Scott Sciple drove drunk the wrong way on Interstate 275 and killed another driver in a head-on collision, police found him stumbling through a South Tampa neighborhood at 3 a.m., bleeding from his arms.

A resident had called 911 to report a break-in, but Sciple told police he had no idea how he got the cuts, a Tampa police report states. He appeared to be under the influence of alcohol and he told a detective the last thing he remembered was going to bed at 11 p.m.

Sciple also told police he suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and showed a detective four prescription bottles, including two for depression and one for anxiety, the report states.

No charges have been filed in the July 1 incident, and Sciple's attorney said Friday he's not ready to discuss PTSD or traumatic brain injury as it relates to Sciple.

"This is another situation where he was clearly disassociated, and it again demonstrates how profoundly his injuries in war have affected him — injuries he suffered in service to his country," said attorney John Fitzgibbons.

On April 25, Sciple was intoxicated when he drove the wrong way on I-275 near Bearss Avenue, the Florida Highway Patrol said. Authorities say that at about 4 a.m., he hit a car driven by 48-year-old Pedro Rivera, who was pronounced dead several hours later.

Court records put Sciple's blood alcohol level at 0.255, about three times the limit at which the state presumes impairment. He was charged last week with DUI manslaughter and DUI with property damage or personal injury. Sciple was released Tuesday on $25,500 bail.

At his bond hearing, prosecutors didn't bring up the Tampa Police Department's investigation. They weren't told about it until Thursday, said Michael Sinacore, felony bureau chief for the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office.

On Friday, several residents on W Santiago Street, where the attempted break-in occurred, said they're nervous that Sciple isn't behind bars. But Sinacore said Sciple voluntarily placed himself in an in-patient treatment program at a hospital. He can't leave without an escort, Sinacore said.

One neighbor said she admires combat veterans for their service and bravery, but she still hopes that Sciple is held responsible for his actions if he's found guilty.

"We need to take care of our veterans, but at the same time, PTSD doesn't give them the right to harm people or scare the living daylights out of them," said Stephanie Hawkins, 42.

After police arrived at the scene on July 1, police Detective Wayne Chaffin spoke with Sciple. He drove Sciple home and walked him inside his apartment to make sure he got back safely, he wrote in the police report.

Once inside, Chaffin saw an open 12-pack of beer on the floor, the report states. That's when he asked to see the prescriptions.

"I asked him if he had been warned not to mix them with alcohol," Chaffin wrote. "He admitted that he is not supposed to drink at all while in his current treatment plan."

Sciple said it wasn't his first "sleep-walking" incident, Chaffin wrote. It had happened once before when Sciple was stationed at Camp Pendleton in California, the report states.

"But he said he had been here in Tampa now for two months, and this is the first such incident he has had here," Chaffin wrote.

After Chaffin left, he called MacDill Air Force Base and passed along information about what had happened that morning.

A Marine Corps Forces Central Command spokeswoman said Friday that the base is not pursuing any action against Sciple.

Tampa police say they're still investigating the July 1 incident. Spokeswoman Andrea Davis said a substance that was believed to be blood found near a broken window turned out not to be blood. Police plan to confer with the State Attorney's Office about possible charges, Davis said.

Sciple served in Iraq in 2004 and 2009, Afghanistan in 2006 and Kuwait in 2003, military officials said. He was transferred from Camp Pendleton to MacDill Air Force Base on April 25, the day of the I-275 crash.

MacDill officials transferred him to administrative duties after they learned of the crash, not as punishment but to allow him more flexibility and time to deal with the legal proceedings, they said.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3433.

Marine charged with DUI now tied to suspected break-in 08/13/10 [Last modified: Friday, August 13, 2010 11:48pm]
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