CRESTVIEW, Fla. — A judge ruled Friday afternoon that Army Special Forces soldier Vaughn Pottle will remain in jail until his trial on attempted murder charges.
The decision by Okaloosa County Circuit Judge Michael Flowers to hold Pottle without bond “was based on the nature of the charge and surrounding circumstances of his arrest,” said Bill Bishop, the county’s chief assistant state attorney.
Those circumstances include links several federal agencies think Pottle has to explosive materials removed from an undetermined military installation.
“The court felt for the protection of the public it was necessary that he should be held without bond,” Bishop said.
Pottle, 31, was arrested Dec. 15 on a domestic violence charge. That charge was upgraded to attempted murder based on information that he applied “a rear naked chokehold,” on his fiancée until she was unconscious, according to testimony at Pottle’s hearing Friday.
On Dec. 29, his fiancée discovered “a large amount of dynamite, TNT and detonators,” at their home in Baker, prosecutor Kimberly Torres said at the hearing.
Less than a week later, another cache of explosives was found on the right of way of the CSX railroad tracks in the north Florida city of Crestview.
Joseph Reosti, Pottle’s attorney, requested at the hearing that his client be released to resume his duties with the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and be evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Our primary goal here is to get Mr. Pottle the help he needs,” Reosti said.
“PTSD is not an excuse,” Torres argued.
She was bolstered by an Army Judge Advocate General captain who testified that Pottle already had been screened for PTSD, and the result was negative.
Torres also argued Pottle’s release to the 7th Group was not a strong enough hold.
Military officials have not charged Pottle with any explosives-related crimes, so they would not have the authority to keep him on base, she said.
“We believe that he is a danger to the community and should not be released,” Torres said.
The JAG captain testified that the Army is beginning the process of Pottle’s separation, based on his domestic violence charge, a weapons charge in October and his refusal to participate in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program.
The federal agencies investigating Pottle include the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives, FBI, Army JAG, Army Criminal Investigative Division, Homeland Security Investigations and Defense Criminal Investigative Services.
The Florida State Fire Marshal’s Office is also involved in the case.
Reosti said the explosives investigation should not be considered in establishing a bond because no charges have been filed.
“He is an explosives expert for the Army, that’s what he did when he was deployed,” Reosti said. “There may be a good explanation for why there were explosives in his house. There is no evidence that he used any explosives.”
Torres submitted multiple recordings of jailhouse calls from Pottle asking his fiancée and a friend to remove items from his garage that could get him in trouble.
“It will send me away forever,” Torres quoted Pottle from the recordings.