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Can We Find A Motive Inside Stephen Paddock's Brain?


Associated Press

This undated photo provided by Eric Paddock shows his brother, Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock.

After he murdered 58 people on the Las Vegas Strip and injured hundreds more, Stephen Paddock shot himself.

Police, so far, have said they can find no evidence of a reason for the shooting.

Now Paddock’s brain is in the hands of a Stanford University pathologist, who is looking for anything that might have led Paddock to murder.

Doctor Jan Leestma is an expert on brain pathology who testified in the 2007 trial of record producer Phil Specter. 

The Chicagoan said the key link between brain structure and behavior is still a relatively new study. He is not confident that much will be found from the study of Paddock's brain.

“This is still virgin territory in a lot of ways," Leestma told KNPR's State of Nevada.

He said researchers, psychologists, and others are working on the issue of the so-called criminal brain but there is a lot we don't know about how the brain works physically and how that interacts with the mind.

Leestma calls it the brain/mind conundrum.

“Okay, we got a brain here. Now what can we do with that that even approaches the sophistication of some of the studies in life,” he said.

As for the actual physical examination of the brain, Leestma said the first step will be to look for the structures of the brain that should be there like the frontal lobs.

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“That’s an area that when it isn’t functioning then you have impulsive, often very strange behaving people," he said.

After looking at the outside of the brain, it will be dissected and the inside will be examined for any missing structures or structures that appear abnormal. 

Leestma also said they would look for lesions of any sort like a tumor. 

A tumor is often blamed for the crimes of Charles Whitman, who shot 17 people from the clock tower at the University of Texas in 1966. It is a crime that is eerily similar to the shooting on the Strip.

In a note he left, Whitman said he had a brain tumor, but Leestma said there have been some questions about that information.

Leestma said finding out why Paddock smuggled 32 guns, some modified to fire almost like automatic weapons, to the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino and then firing on an open-air music festival below is extremely complicated.

“A task like this is really a jigsaw puzzle and you need all the information you can get from different quarters so you can build a matrix so hopefully, you can come to some kind of conclusion," he said.


Dr. Jan Leestma, forensic neuropathology expert/consultant

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