A federal judge on Friday ordered former CIA contractor David Passaro to remain jailed until his assault trial after prosecutors said witnesses would testify Passaro beat an Afghan detainee so badly he begged to be shot.
After a detention hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge William Webb connected a 1990 assault by Passaro when he was a Hartford, Conn., police officer and the alleged beating of Abdul Wali in an Afghanistan prison. Webb said the Connecticut case "started a pattern I see repeated here of structuring stories, setting plans."
Passaro faces four counts of assault and assault with a dangerous weapon -- a large flashlight. Wali, who was 28, died at a U.S. base in Afghanistan on June 21, 2003.
During Friday's hearing, prosecutors questioned Passaro's girlfriend about allegedly coded telephone conversations the two had about money and Passaro's passport.
Bonnie Heart, a Wake Forest police detective who met Passaro online, said she and Passaro received a letter from prosecutors in February. After that, she said, they discussed how she should handle his financial affairs if he was arrested.
Heart, a seven-year officer, testified that Passaro asked her to get his dozen or so guns out of his house after his arrest, but she said she did not know much about firearms. She also said she and Passaro never discussed his work for the CIA in Afghanistan.
"It is inconceivable to me that a person who has been a police officer for seven years would testify that she was unfamiliar with firearms," the judge said. "That dovetails with testimony that they didn't discuss the CIA."
Earlier, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Candelmo said three members of the 82nd Airborne Division would testify Passaro beat Wali with a heavy metal flashlight 10 to 30 times and kicked him so hard he came off the ground.
A paratrooper will testify that when Passaro left the room to take a break during one interrogation session, Wali begged one of the paratroopers guarding him "to please shoot me," Candelmo added.
Defense attorneys have cited an Afghan governor's comment that Wali died of a heart attack, but a spokesman for that governor recently said he suspected heart problems only because U.S. officials insisted the man was not mistreated.
At the time of Wali's death, Passaro was working as a CIA contractor in Afghanistan and was on leave from a civilian job with the Fort Bragg-headquartered Special Operations Command.
If convicted, Passaro faces up to 40 years in prison and a $1 million fine.