A former paratrooper accused of hunting and killing two black people was so fogged by alcohol that it’s unlikely he could form an intent to kill, an expert testified Monday.
“His brain had been soaking in alcohol for 12 or 13 hours,” said Professor Brian McMillen, a pharmacologist at East Carolina University medical school.
James Burmeister, 21, of Thompson, Pa., would have had difficulty forming an intent to kill on Dec. 6, 1995, McMillen testified.
Burmeister is charged with first-degree murder in the slayings of Michael James, 36, and Jackie Burden, 22, who were shot while walking along a street here. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
The first day of defense testimony aimed to refute prosecutors’ theory that Burmeister wanted to kill black people to endear himself to racist skinhead soldiers.
McMillen testified that Burmeister drank nearly 2 gallons of beer the night of the killings and had a blood alcohol level of .259 percent just before the slayings happened.
“It is quite likely he was in an alcohol blackout with concentrations that high,” McMillen said.
Burmeister is charged in the killings along with Malcolm Wright, who faces a separate trial in the deaths, and Randy Meadows, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and accessory charges and testified against Burmeister.
The three men, all white, were members of the 82nd Airborne Division. They have been discharged from the Army.