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Afghan Massacre Suspect Heads to U.S


The American soldier accused of massacring 16 Afghan civilians — mostly women and children — is on his way back to the United States where he will be held before trial, the soldier’s lawyer and defense officials said today.

The shooting suspect, who has not been publicly identified, is expected to arrive at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas later today, attorney John Henry Browne told CNN, echoing the timeline defense officials provided to ABC News. The soldier had been held in Kuwait after he was spirited out of Afghanistan days after the alleged murders.

Browne, a high profile Seattle-based attorney who has represented the northwest’s infamous Barefoot Bandit Colton Harris-Moore as well as convicted serial killer Ted Bundy, disputed a New York Times report that his client had “snapped” before the shooting, saying that while his client was certainly stressed from living in a war zone, he did not snap.

Browne also called reports that the alleged shooter was suffering marital problems before his last deployment “totally bogus” and said there was “no issue” with the marriage.

However, the attorney noted the soldier was distressed over returning to combat — he had already been deployed three times to Iraq before going to Afghanistan. The day before the alleged murders, Browne said, a fellow soldier lost a leg in an attack “right in front of my client” — a horrific injury that had upset several soldiers.

The suspect, described by defense officials as a 38-year-old staff sergeant hailing from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, had been injured twice in previous deployments, including a suffering a traumatic brain injury in Iraq in 2010, defense officials told ABC News.

The staff sergeant is accused of going out in the middle of the night Sunday from his base in Kandahar and walking to a nearby village where he systematically entered several homes and opened fire on the occupants. Of the 16 victims, three were children and nine were women.

The soldier then allegedly returned to the base where he turned himself in.

Speaking of the alleged killing spree, President Obama said Tuesday, “The United States takes this as seriously as if it were our own citizens and our own children who were murdered.”

“The killing of innocent civilians is outrageous and it’s unacceptable. It’s not who we are as a country and it does not represent our military,” he said.

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