Report: U.S. soldier 'snapped' under pressure

Musadeq Sadeq/AP

Burdened by the stress of a fourth deployment, issues at home and apparent alcohol use, the American soldier suspected of killing 16 Afghan civilians on Sunday "snapped" prior to the massacre, The New York Times reports.

“When it all comes out, it will be a combination of stress, alcohol and domestic issues — he just snapped,” said an unnamed American official quoted by The Times, who had been briefed on the investigation.

As early as Friday, the staff sergeant, whose name has still not been released, may be moved from Kuwait to a prison in the U.S., most likely Fort Leavenworth, Kan., according to The Times. The sudden transfer is a result of a diplomatic uproar in Kuwait over the suspect’s presence in the country.

John Henry Browne, an attorney for the accused soldier, said on Friday that his client was promised his third deployment would be his last and that it was "simply not true" that there were exceptional marital tensions. But the basis of their defense will surround Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, he said.

"My take on it was he wasn't sure of all the facts, which raises some questions in my mind about his state of mind," Browne said on NBC's Today. "I know there was screening because of a concussive head injury, which can be very serious."

On Thursday, Browne told the Associated Press that the soldier had just seen his friend's leg "blown off," and that he was standing right next to him.

Browne said the case will be more political than legal, bringing up issues beyond the killings — like the treatment of soldiers and whether the U.S. should still be involved in the war.

"I'm used to legal things, not political things," he said. "So I think there will be an effort to try to paint him as a rogue soldier rather than focus on how we are treating our G.I.s in general and whether we should be over there to begin with."

The suspect, Browne says, will remain unnamed for security reasons. Browne's previous cases involved defending the serial killer Ted Bundy and the "Barefoot Bandit," Colton Harris-Moore.

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