Lawyer: Accused soldier was reluctant to deploy to Afghanistan
John Henry Browne says the possibility that his client suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by injuries and multiple combat deployments will be explored.
(Seattle Times) -- by Mike Carter and Hal Bernton --
A Seattle defense attorney hired to help represent a soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians says the possibility that his client suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by injuries and multiple combat deployments will be foremost among the issues his team will explore.
John Henry Browne said he spoke by telephone to the 38-year-old staff sergeant, an Army sniper, whose demeanor he described as "shocked" and "distant."
"He certainly wasn't agitated," said Browne, who wouldn't identify the soldier. "I don't think he knows a lot of the facts that are being alleged."
He said his client — who is from Joint Base Lewis-McChord — is a decorated soldier who had lost part of a foot in combat in Iraq, and had suffered a head injury during another Iraq tour when his Stryker vehicle crashed after a roadside bomb detonated nearby.
Those injuries and "other reasons" had led the soldier to believe he was not going to be sent to Afghanistan after three previous deployments in Iraq.
Dr. Richard Adler, a Seattle forensic psychiatrist who specializes in PTSD, has been brought in by the defense team. Adler said Thursday that the soldier apparently had undergone a screening for a "concussive head injury" at Madigan Army Medical Center before his most recent deployment in December. Browne said the staff sergeant had sought some counseling, but he did not have the details.
"He did not want to deploy," Browne said in an interview. "In fact he was told he was not going to go. Then, really almost overnight, that changed."
The soldier is suspected of going on a shooting rampage in villages near his base in southern Afghanistan early Sunday, killing nine children and seven other civilians and then burning some of their bodies. The shooting, which followed a controversial Quran-burning incident involving U.S. soldiers, has outraged Afghan officials.
Browne said there was other evidence the soldier may have been under stress: A fellow soldier in his unit had reportedly lost a leg in combat the day before the civilian shootings...MORE...LINK