John Henry Browne, the lawyer who represented the teenage thief known as "the Barefoot Bandit," will help defend the US soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians in Kandahar, the Seattle Post Intelligencer reported.
Browne said the 38-year-old sergeant is from the Seattle area, and asked to be represented by him when he was taken into custody, according to the Seattle PI. The soldier was flown out of Afghanistan to Kuwait on Wednesday, despite calls by Afghans for him to be tried in their country.
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Emma Scanlan, Browne’s law partner, told the Seattle Times that he is making arrangements to meet the soldier in the near future, possibly in Kuwait. The staff sergeant will most likely be tried in military court, and she and Browne will be working alongside his military lawyers, according to the Times.
The US soldier shocked the world when he entered homes and fired on unarmed Afghan villagers on Sunday morning, killing 16 civilians, including nine children, and wounding several others. US officials have still not verified the total number of casualties, according to USA Today.
Though the soldier has not been formally charged yet, Pentagon officials have indicated he will be charged with premeditated murder and possibly face the death penalty, according to USA today.
Browne told the Tacoma News-Tribune that the case would be “more political than legal.”
He declined to offer any more information about his client, saying he was protecting the safety of the soldier and his family, according to the News-Tribune.
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Browne told The Associated Press that the soldier, who is based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, had been injured twice twice during tours in Iraq and was reluctant to leave on his fourth deployment.
"He wasn't thrilled about going on another deployment," Browne said, the AP reported. "He was told he wasn't going back, and then he was told he was going."
Investigators are looking into the possibility that alcohol or an email about marriage problems may help explain why the soldier went on the rampage, according to USA Today.
Browne is well-known for recently representing Colton Harris-Moore, the so-called "Barefoot Bandit" who stole airplanes, boats, and broke into homes over the course of the two years he spent fleeing from police. He was sentenced in December to 6.5 years in prison, according to the Seattle PI.