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John Nathan Pino makes first court appearance

by Bill Knowles

WALSENBURG— Calling the actions John Pino took during a family fight that ended with the defendant allegedly firing an assault weapon at the residence his wife was staying at as “dangerous to the community,” 3rd District Court Judge Claude Appel denied defense requests to lower the bail in Pino’s first appearance on Monday, July 12.

    Pino is being charged with attempted first degree murder, felony menacing, firearms violations, as well as assault and battery on a domestic violence warrant in a case stemming from a June 16, event where he is alleged to have beaten his wife. 

    After going into hiding Pino returned to his house on June 20 in the Navajo Ranch subdivision where he waited several hours for his wife to return.  When she didn’t he went to his father-in-law’s house looking for her.

    During a verbal exchange with his brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Pino is alleged to have threatened the residents.  Police report he then fired on the house with an AR-15 rifle. No one was injured.

    The Public Defender, Patrick McCarville, argued that Pino, a First Sergeant with15 years in the Colorado National Guard had returned from Iraq in April 2010 and needs to be evaluated.

    PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) has been defined as an emotional illness that usually develops as a result of a terribly frightening, life-threatening, or an otherwise highly unsafe experience.  Those who suffer from the illness may re-experience the traumatic event or events in some way.  They tend to avoid places, people, or other things that remind them of the event and are very sensitive to normal life experiences.

    Up to 31 percent of soldiers returning from combat in Iraq experience depression or PTSD that affects their jobs, relationships, or home life, according to a new study by Army researchers released in June 2010.

    For as many as 14 percent of these veterans, depression and PTSD cause severe problems in their daily life. These problems are often accompanied by alcohol misuse and aggressive behavior, the study found.

    Roughly half of the soldiers with PTSD or depression reported having abused alcohol or engaged in aggressive behavior, such as punching a wall or getting into a fight.

    The study, whose data was compiled and analyzed by Major Jeffrey L. Thomas, Ph.D., chief of military psychiatry at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Springs, Maryland, suggests that the risk of mental health problems may be more persistent among National Guard soldiers.

    The study was unclear in showing why the rates of PTSD and depression among active duty and National Guard soldiers diverged a few months after they returned. One explanation could be that soldiers in the National Guard tend to be more isolated when they get back to the U.S.

    Reserve units typically lose group cohesion and solidarity to a greater degree than active duty units.  It may be that as long as reserve members are involved with active units a group and interpersonal support system exists.  But once they leave active duty status and return to civilian life reserve members may have a tough readjustment with reservists losing their healthcare.

    Even when the care is free, medical facilities often aren′t as easy for National Guard members to access as they are for active duty soldiers still living on military bases.

    Several murders committed by returning Fort Carson soldiers in the Colorado Springs area has focused national attention on PTSD in returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans over the past three years. 

    Judge Appel ordered Pino to receive counciling and issued a no contact order to prevent Pino from coming into contact with his wife. 

    A preliminary hearing in the case has been scheduled for Aug. 5, at 1:30 in the Huerfano County Courthouse.  The defendant was remanded to the county jail to await the hearing.