June 29, 2009 8:00 AM
Brain Dead: Did Marines Push Brain-Damaged Vet To Kill?
LONG BEACH (CBS/AP) Two former Marines are standing trial for pushing a brain damaged fellow combat veteran to commit murder.
Anthony "Red" Vigeant and Trevor Landers are accused of recruiting Cpl. Ramon Hernandez, an ex-marine who lost one-third of his brain in Iraq, to be the trigger man in a 2007 California home invasion robbery. It ended in the murder of the homeowner, David Pettigrew.
Hernandez already pleaded guilty earlier this year to all counts he faced in connection with the murder.
But the state has not yet been able to successfully prosecute Vigeant or Landers. The current trial is the first time Vigeant will answer to the charges. It's the second time for Landers, whose first trial ended in May with a deadlocked jury that voted 10-to-2 in favor of guilt on all counts.
The victim, 22-year-old Pettigrew, was a former high school champion water polo player, who started a framing business after graduating in 2003. It was on Sept. 9, 2007, when, according to prosecutors, he refused to take a laptop computer from Vigeant and Landers in exchange for an ounce of cocaine.
Prosecutors allege that's when Vigeant and Landers told Hernandez to kill Pettigrew. According to The Long Beach Press-Telegraph, Landers and Vigeant befriended Hernandez only after they identified him as wounded just a few weeks prior to the murder.
Hernandez's injury happened during his second tour of duty in Iraq. A car-bomb detonated 60 feet from his vehicle, causing massive brain damage and ripping away part of his skull and left eye.
According to Hernandez, the two "brought David Pettigrew up, and petty issues regarding the alleged theft of a laptop computer, every time they saw him." Eventually, Hernandez "went with them to deal with Pettigrew because he saw the rip-off as an affront to his fellow Marines.".