In March, 2013 Virginia State Master Trooper Junius Walker was gunned down on Interstate 85. Walker had stopped to assist a disabled vehicle on the interstate when Russell Brown shot him as he sat in his patrol car.
During the high-profile trial, two forensic psychologists were called to testify in Brown’s insanity defense. Dr. Evan Nelson and Dr. Sara Boyd testified their findings after evaluating Brown.
Dr. Evan Nelson, a renowned clinical psychologist, answered questions throughout the morning of day 12 of the trial, in regards to Brown’s mental state. Nelson described Brown as suffering from Type I bipolar disorder with psychotic episodes. Upon his arrest, Brown had told state police that God had told him to kill Master Trooper Walker.
Nelson explained that Brown’s use of marijuana had intensified his psychotic tendencies, resulting in the shooting death of Walker. Nelson pointed out Brown’s fixation on religion, conspiracy theories and the end of the world, saying that delusions of grandeur made him believe he was on a “preordained mission from God.”
During his testimony, Nelson charted out the gradual decline of Brown’s psychological state including the belief that a blackout during the 2013 Super Bowl was the result a biblical prophecy. In another instance, Brown gave away the majority of his possessions to roam in the woods in North Carolina with a girlfriend.
Nelson concluded that Brown was not faking mental illness to avoid being tried for the murder. “There are always small signs, from things like body language of nonverbal cues that are just slightly off, that cannot be faked,” he said.
Dr. Boyd testified shortly after, reiterating Nelson’s opinions. She drew on friends and family members’ testimonies to confirm her findings.
Despite compelling testimony by both forensic psychologists, a jury found Brown guilty of murder. He is currently awaiting sentencing.