A Suffolk judge ordered a psychiatric exam Thursday for an Army veteran who beat his homeless shelter roommate last month with bolt cutters.
Michael Hunter, 29, told state Supreme Court Justice John Collins that he didn’t need the exam and was justified in crushing the skull of Brett Locke, 58, because he smoked and a government website urged him to “fight” the habit.
“Why would I be imprisoned after that?” Hunter asked Collins in Riverhead.
Hunter, who is being held without bail, was arraigned on an indictment charging him with second-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault. Defense attorney Michael Finkelstein of Bohemia entered a not guilty plea.
Assistant District Attorney Kimberly Shalvey said the beating at the Suffolk County United Veterans home in Yaphank took place July 17, a few days after the men argued about Locke’s smoking. At about 2:30 a.m., Shalvey said Hunter took bolt cutters from a closet and hit the sleeping Locke in the head four or five times.
“Essentially, every bone in his face was broken,” Shalvey said. She added that if Locke survives — which is not certain — he will need medical care for the rest of his life.
Finkelstein said the attack was the result of untreated post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Mr. Hunter fought for our country,” Finkelstein said of the Afghanistan veteran. But when he returned, he “was homeless, he was penniless. He received no medical care.”
The website Hunter saw ordered him to “fight” smoking, and Finkelstein said Hunter responded as a trained soldier. He said his client doesn’t understand why what he did was wrong.
Collins told Hunter the allegations “are very serious” and he wanted “to send some doctors to talk to you. Will you talk to them?”
“Nope,” Hunter replied. “I feel perfectly fine.”
“Well, I will do it anyway,” Collins said. “If you choose not to talk to them, you may put your lawyer in a very difficult position.”
Collins told both lawyers, “Mr. Hunter’s affect is slightly inappropriate, by my reckoning. He does not seem to understand why he’s here.”
He ordered Hunter held without bail.
Shalvey said if Locke dies from his injuries, her office likely would seek a new indictment to reflect that.