TODAY   |  May 24, 2010

‘Vist ur dead brother’ made teen snap?

After receiving vicious text messages, Wayne Treacy admits to putting on steel-toed boots and stomping Josie Ratley to near death. Treacy’s lawyer and psychologist discuss his case.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> al, thank you.

>>> now to that awful case we've been following out of florida. one teenager slowly recovering from brain damage , another behind bars, charged with trying to kill her. it was all over some text messages . now we know exactly what they said to each other. the story from nbc's michelle kosinski .

>> what's your favorite class?

>> probably japanese.

>> reporter: at 15, wayne treacy has seen his father go to prison, his older brother commit suicide. but wayne was a good student, well liked, on the right path, until one march day . he admits he beat and kicked eighth grader josie ratley over text messages while he was trying to reach her friend.

>> i remember she said something about my dead brother and that really set me off.

>> reporter: now his lawyer has released those texts. josie calls wayne a rapest, repeatedly, for liking a 13-year-old girl. it escalates. i will find you. i will mess you up, wayne types. he insults josie 's father, not knowing he's actually dead. josie responds just go visit your dead brother and from wayne you're dead. i swear i'm going to kill you. josie , you make me giggle but he texts other friends claiming he will kill josie ratley, stomp her. he stomped and kicked josie nearly to death.

>> usually when i get angry, it goes away but i couldn't get the feeling to subside.

>> reporter: he sounds almost nonchalant but later he breaks down. his attorney says here was a traumatized boy who kept everything bottled up until that day. he has plead not guilty to attempted murder , intending to show though nearly three hours passed between those texts and that attack, that he simply snapped. while today, josie , after brain surgery , must learn again to walk and speak. for "today," michelle kosinski , nbc news, miami.

>> russell williams is wayne treacy 's attorney and michael brandon is the court-appointed psychologist who evaluated him. good morning to you both.

>> good morning.

>> mr. brandon , if i can start with you, wayne treacy has been charged as an adult with attempted murder , been portrayed as a cold-blooded kid. you spent 20 some hours evaluating him. what's your impression of him?

>> he's a very sad kid. that's the first impression you have. he's very tearful, very remorseful. he can't understand how he could possibly do something like this. so, whenever the incident is discussed, he is very, very tearful. it's hard to get him through any discussion about this actual event. it's almost like he speaks about it as if somebody else had conducted this behavior.

>> yet as michelle pointed out, he seems so calm on the police video in his confession.

>> only on the piece that you saw. right before that, he's crying. and right after it, he cries. and he's especially tearful and sobbing when his mother comes into the room. there's a very emotional exchange. and that's the way i have usually seen him, as that young man who is crying and feels so badly about what happened.

>> what is your diagnosis, doctor? do you think that he snapped?

>> i do think he snapped in kind of a nonclinical way. in a clinical way, he has post traumatic stress disorder and he has an earlier diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder . matter of fact, at the age of 4, it was recommended to his mother that he be placed on medication, stimulant medication called riddlin in order to help him with his hyperactivity. he was overwhelmed with emotions at this particular time about his brother, who he found hanging from a tree, along with his mother. he never dealt with that and one of the thing that is became triggered in this whole incident with josie , the unfortunate victim in this case, is those exact feelings that were being suppressed and pushed down.

>> if the trial were held today, mr. williams, i understand you would argue that he would not be held accountable by reason of insanity. if you look at the transcript of the text messages , it appears that he threatened her even before she brought up his dead brother, which would -- i assume would have triggered this immense anger in him. then he waited several hours before he went to the school, texted friends, say iing he was going to go get her. as we pointed out earlier in the confession, at times he seemed very calm. that doesn't sound like somebody who snapped.

>> well, you have to go way back with him. first of all, she, josie , is calling him a rapist. he knew several girls that had been raped before. that was the start. then the conversation or text messaging deteriorated from that point forward and you get to the point where he just gets overwhelmed or overcome with his emotions and he actually, in what i term sending out flares, he sends out flares to three of his friends, tells them what he's going to do. nobody says anything. nobody calls the police. nobody calls his mom. nobody calls the school. said something to josie and she text messages back, you make me giggle. she doesn't go to anybody in the school. each one of those people is like stop me, stop me, stop me. i need help, i need help, i need help and it never happens. as dr. brandon points out, the ride, three hours in between that time and the ride over to the school, three miles to the school, he was not thinking about those text messages . he was thinking about defending his brother, seeing his brother hanging from the tree. and at that point, it was -- you know, he had a script played out in his head and he just couldn't get back to where he needed to be.

>> mr. williams, mr. brandon , we'll have to leave it at that. obviously your psychological evaluation will go to the judge now. thank you both for your help this morning.

>> thank you.

>> thank you.

>>> coming up, a true fighter.