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Soldier in attempted murder case returned to VA hospital

By Karen Florin

Publication: theday.com

Published November 27. 2012 3:00PM   Updated November 27. 2012 11:55PM

A 28-year-old Army soldier who allegedly shot his girlfriend in the chest while experiencing a flashback to his deployment in the Middle East was inadvertently discharged over the weekend from the Veterans Affairs hospital.

Jason Durr was returned to the West Haven hospital Monday after he was located at his mother’s home, according to his attorney, Kevin C. Barrs. Durr will remain at the VA hospital until he is released on Dec. 4 to a residential substance abuse treatment facility in Long Island, according to Barrs.

The news that Durr was free and will be receiving treatment before his criminal case is resolved was unsettling for the victim, 26-year-old Rachel Trombino, and her family, who have been following his case in New London Superior Court.

“I don’t understand why he’s in a program,” Trombino said. “He shot me. He deserves to be in jail.”

Trombino underwent emergency surgery after Durr allegedly shot her in May in his basement apartment at 424 Kick Hill Road in Lebanon with an assault-type rifle. Durr, who called police to report the shooting as Trombino lay on his bed bleeding, was charged with attempted murder, first-degree assault and illegal possession of an assault weapon.

Durr was released from prison last month and admitted to the VA hospital for evaluation for post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from his deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. The hospital would not evaluate him while he was incarcerated.

In releasing him to the hospital, Judge Susan B. Handy reduced Durr’s $1.1 million bond to a written promise to appear in court and received regular progress reports from a representative from the Southeastern Mental Health Authority.

The judge added the case to the docket Tuesday after learning Durr had been discharged from the hospital. After Barrs updated her, Handy continued the case until Tuesday and waived Durr’s presence as long as he is in the treatment facility. The judge noted from the bench that she has been receiving letters from Trombino’s family regarding the case.

While Durr’s attorney is exploring the possibility of using mental illness as a defense, prosecutor David J. Smith has said he would be seeking prison time for the offense. Trombino’s scars run the length of her torso, but she said she is doing well physically.

“I woke up and they told me I’m not even supposed to be alive now,” she said.

Trombino said she learned after the shooting that Durr had never been diagnosed with PTSD. Now, Trombino says, she actually has the disorder as a result of the shooting. She is seeing a counselor.

Trombino said Durr had been drinking heavily and “eating Xanax like it was candy” before he shot her. She said she doesn’t have a lot of faith in a protective order that prohibits him from contacting her.

“There’s a piece of paper between me and a 6-foot-10-inch man,” she said.

— Karen Florin

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