By any measure, Robert Bittle is a mess.
The lifelong criminal, who is awaiting trial on charges that he robbed a Jupiter bank in 2010, has one glass eye. More often than not, the pupil in his good eye is dilated, making the world appear as one long tunnel. He also has Hepatitis C, putting his liver at risk.
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WHAT IS ‘HYDROCEPHALUS’?
Hydrocephalus, a chronic neurological condition that affects roughly 1 million Americans, is often called “water on the brain.” Here are some facts about it:
- It is characterized by an expansion of the ventricles in the brain, caused by an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid.
- There is no cure. The most common treatment is to implant a shunt which drains fluid from the brain.
- One to two of every 1,000 babies are born with it, making it as common as Down’s syndrome and more common than spina bifida.
- An estimated 375,000 older Americans have what is called normal pressure hydrocephalus, which is often misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.
- Total medical costs for hydrocephalus exceed $1 billion a year.
- The National Institutes of Health spends less than $1 million annually on research and treatment.
ROBERT BITTLE: THE CAREER CRIMINAL
The 46-year-old who grew up in the Jupiter area readily admits that his criminal record is stunning. He doesn’t blame hydrocephalus, but says it may have contributed to his recklessness as a youth. Here is an abbreviated look at his charges that have been filed against him over the years:
- 1985 - Burglary, larceny and passing forged checks by Jupiter police
- 1986 - Forgery by Mangonia Park police
- 1989 - Cocaine possession and resisting arrest by Riviera Beach police
- 1994 - Robbery without a firearm by St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office
- 2002 - Parole violation, robbery with a firearm, trafficking in oxycodone, possession of drug equipment by Port St. Lucie police
- 2006 - Three counts of robbery without a firearm by Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office
- 2010 - Robbery without a firearm, aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, two probation violations by Jupiter police
Source: Florida Department of Corrections.