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Afghan massacre: Accused US soldier's lawyer eyes PTSD defense

John Henry Browne, the attorney who defended Ted Bundy and the so-called Barefoot Bandit, talks to TODAY's Matt Lauer about his possible defense strategy, saying a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) defense is likely, and says there's a significant amount of misinformation about his client circulating.

Updated at 9:54 a.m. ET: The case against the U.S. soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers is "more political than legal" and the defense will likely focus on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), his lawyer told NBC News on Friday.

Attorney John Henry Browne, who is representing the soldier, said the suspect had been training to become a military recruiter after three tours of duty in Iraq but had been ordered to return to Afghanistan "overnight."

"There will be efforts to paint him as a rogue soldier rather than focusing on how we treat GIs in general or whether we should be over there to begin with," he told TODAY’s Matt Lauer in an exclusive interview.

The soldier was "en route" to the military prison in Levenworth, Kansas, U.S. officials told NBC News on Friday morning.

Meanwhile, Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Friday accused the United States of failing to fully cooperate with an investigation into the massacre and questioned whether only one soldier could have been involved.

A series of blunders by the United States, including the killings in Kandahar province on Sunday and the inadvertent burning of copies of the Koran at a NATO base last month, has further strained already tense relations between the countries.

New details have emerged about the U.S. soldier accused of killing 16 civilians, including nine children, during a shooting spree in Afghanistan. NBC's Richard Engel reports.

Browne told Lauer reports that the staff sergeant had been suffering marital problems were "absolutely not true" and "offensive," adding the soldier has "a very strong and loving relationship with his wife."

He added that he would not be naming his client until the U.S. government formally released the man's identity. "I’ve been told by the government... that there is a great deal of security concern and I will go along with that until the government reveals his identity... not only concern for him but his family," Browne said.

Browne also told The Associated Press that his client saw his friend's leg blown off the day before the rampage. Browne said that according to his client's family, he was standing next to another U.S. soldier when that soldier was gravely injured.

Browne said the suspect had suffered a "concussive head injury" concussion and lost part of his foot during deployments to Iraq.

The lawyer, who has previously defended serial killer Ted Bundy, told TODAY that the soldier had been screened for PTSD after the head injury and been cleared, but characterized the testing as "minimal".

Browne also said that the suspect had not confessed, adding: "He wasn’t exactly sure of the facts, which raises some question in my mind about his state of mind."

'He just snapped'
Earlier, the New York Times reported that a senior American official as saying the suspect had been drinking alcohol the night of the massacre and was suffering from the stress of a fourth combat tour and tension with his wife.

“When it all comes out, it will be a combination of stress, alcohol and domestic issues — he just snapped,” the official said, according to the Times. The newspaper said the official had been briefed on the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity because the soldier has not been formally charged.

Browne told NBC News alcohol was "maybe" involved but said it was not clear if this was the case.

The military was move him to a prison in the United States as early as Friday, most likely to Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Read The New York Times account

The suspect had been flown to a detention site in Kuwait on Thursday. However, the Times said the official said that there was a diplomatic uproar when Kuwait learned from news reports that the soldier had arrived at an American base there. The official said that "the Kuwaitis blew a gasket and wanted him out of there.”

The Times said the official's account had been confirmed by a senior official at the Pentagon.

At a news conference on Thursday night, Browne said it would be at least a few weeks until charges are filed.

The soldier in custody is 38, married and has two children, ages 3 and 4. Sources have told NBC News that he enlisted soon after 9/11, trained as a sniper and was based at Joint Base Lewis McChord, about an hour south of Seattle. He served three tours in Iraq.

He arrived in Afghanistan in December and was assigned to a village stability operation. He is accused of slipping off the base early Sunday, walking to a village, entering homes and opening fire. Among the dead were nine children and three women. Of the 16, 11 came from one family. Five others were injured.

Karzai: Get U.S. troops out of our villages

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has said the death penalty may be applied in this case.  

Browne, who recently represented Colton Harris-Moore, the so-called Barefoot Bandit, said he has spoken with the soldier’s family – who Army officials said had been moved onto the base for their safety.

Browne said he has only handled three or four military cases before, the AP reported. The soldier will also have at least one military lawyer.

On Friday, Karzai told reporters at his palace in Kabul: "The army chief has just reported that the Afghan investigation team did not receive the cooperation that they expected from the United States. Therefore these are all questions that we'll be raising, and raising very loudly, and raising very clearly."

Flanked by senior officials, Karzai met with village elders and the families of victims of the massacre, and dressed somberly in black for the start of two days of talks to discuss the killings.

"They believe it's not possible for one person to do that. In his family in four rooms people were killed, women and children were killed, and they were all brought together in one room and then put on fire. That, one man cannot do," Karzai said.

With several investigations still underway by both U.S. and Afghan officials, any discovery of more than one soldier involved in the incident would be a disaster for NATO, with Western leaders needing to win over Afghans ahead of a withdrawal by most foreign combat troops in 2014.

On Thursday, Karzai called for NATO troops to leave Afghan villages and confine themselves to major bases, underscoring fury over the massacre and clouding U.S. exit plans.

He also demanded the handover of security to Afghan police and soldiers by 2013, a year ahead of schedule.

Such a move could undercut U.S. President Barack Obama's strategy for Afghanistan and hamper efforts to mentor Afghan police and help with local governance.

NBC News' Miguel Almaguer and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.

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