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Report: Army Sergeant Suspected in Afghan Killings ‘Snapped’

JANGIR/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- With a Seattle law firm hired to assist military attorneys in defending an American Army staff sergeant expected to be charged in last Sunday's slaying of 16 Afghan civilians, The New York Times has quoted a U.S. official as saying that the suspect was drinking on the night that he allegedly went on a shooting spree and "snapped."

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the 38-year-old soldier, who may be identified on Friday, was having marital problems and feeling stress from his fourth deployment in a war zone, having already served three tours before in Iraq.

According to the Times' source, "When it all comes out, it will be a combination of stress, alcohol and domestic issues -- he just snapped."

The sergeant was transferred from Afghanistan to Kuwait earlier in the week but there are reports confirmed by the Pentagon that the Kuwaitis wanted the suspect moved immediately out of the country.  He's expected to arrive at the prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, perhaps as early as Friday.

Meanwhile, attorney John Henry Browne said on Thursday that he was hired by the sergeant's family to represent him, although charges might not be filed for weeks.  The soldier, believed to be from the Midwest, was stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington.

Disputing reports of the soldier having marital difficulties, Browne said he had suffered both a concussion and a serious foot injury while in Iraq.

As for what might have happened on the night that 16 Afghans were gunned down, Browne claimed that soldiers at the small outpost where the sergeant was deployed in Afghanistan were apparently upset that someone in their unit was "gravely wounded."

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