(TACOMA, Wash.) — A well-known Seattle defense attorney has agreed to represent the unidentified Army soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians this past weekend.
The office of attorney John Henry Browne confirmed to ABC News that Browne has agreed to represent the soldier who is based at Joint Base Lewis McChord just outside of Tacoma, Wash. Browne has represented various high-profile clients in the Seattle area, most recently Colton Harris-Moore, the thief and fugitive known by the moniker “the Barefoot Bandit” for committing some of his crimes barefoot.
The soldier has not yet been charged with the shooting deaths of 16 civilians who lived in two villages near his base in rural Panjwai District of Kandahar province in Southern Afghanistan.
His identity has not been made public by the Pentagon, though ABC News has learned that he is a 38-year-old staff sergeant and a married father of two serving his fourth overseas deployment. His deployment to Afghanistan this past December was his first after having served three previous combat deployments to Iraq.
According to Seattle press accounts, Browne says he spoke with the soldier by phone early Thursday, and is making plans to fly to Kuwait to meet with his new client. On Wednesday, the soldier was flown out of Afghanistan to Kuwait, where he is now being detained at a U.S. military detention facility.
ABC News has learned that shortly after the massacre suspect was detained for the shootings, he requested a lawyer and then did not volunteer much information. A military lawyer was assigned to him and represented him at a pre-trial confinement hearing on Tuesday. That hearing before a U.S. military magistrate in Afghanistan determined that there was probable cause to continue to detain the soldier.
The next step in the legal process will be the preferring of criminal charges against the soldier. Once those charges are presented the soldier’s identity will be made public. Military service members have the option of including civilian attorneys to work with their military lawyers as their cases navigate through the military court system.
The soldier’s family was immediately notified of his role in the shootings and was transferred from off-base housing to Joint Base Lewis McChord for their protection.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Steve Visser and Masoud Popalzai, CNN
KJ Kwon and Ben Westcott, CNN
Ralph Ellis and Steve Almasy, CNN
Rafael Romo and Emanuella Grinberg, CNN