Returning Local Soldier Charged with Attempted Murder

Posted at 11:48 PM, Apr 09, 2013


PLAINWELL, Mich. –Anthony McFarlane, 22, is about to become a father and is struggling with new demons, trying to put what happened in Afghanistan behind him while dealing with a possible life sentence for what happened when he returned.

It was January 30 in Otsego. The family attorney wouldn’t let McFarlane talk about what happened that night but his parents will never forget.

His stepfather remembers the call that said Anthony had stabbed someone.“I need to stand up and doing something that’s much bigger than myself,” said McFarlane on why he joined the Army.

McFarlane returned to Allegan County last June. He was honorably discharged, but things just weren’t the same.

“He does walk around on alert,” said his mother, Melissa Seeback.  “His life was every day, 24 hours a day, you hear bombs and guns. His life dictated him watching everything that was happening around him.”

McFarlane was officially diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a disability that affects 6 to 11 percent of vets returning from Afghanistan, according to

McFarlane is now charged with assault with intent to murder, assault to do great bodily harm less than murder, and assault with a dangerous weapon. He could face life behind bars.

According to the police report, McFarlane told Otsego Police he was in an argument with his girlfriend. A passerby tried to involve himself in the situation. In the police report, McFarlane says the man later returned, “approaching him at a very fast pace, almost like he was marching.” McFarlane told investigators the man stopped, grabbed McFarlane, and slammed him against the building.”

In the report, McFarlane says one of his hands was on the knife in his pocket. He goes on to say “that he felt his life was being threatened so he instinctively pulled the knife from his pocket and stabbed the individual.”

McFarlane’s family and attorney call it self defense, but was it?

The victim told police that as he approached, McFarlane turned around and stepped in front of him, put his hand on the man’s chest, and said “Do you remember me?” The man said he grabbed McFarlane’s jacket, and that’s when the stabbing took place.

According to the police report, the victim told police he had drinks earlier in the day. FOX 17 obtained an Allegan County Sheriff’s Department document stating a test showed McFarlane didn’t have any alcohol in his system.

As for the knife, according to police, McFarlane said he threw it in the air. He also thinks he may have blacked out and reverted to when he was in Afghanistan.

“They’re trying to make it out like he intended on hurting this man, like there was an intention for him to hurt and or kill him,” said Seeback. “I don’t understand how that calculates.”

“Instead of giving him the treatment he needs and figuring out how to put him back into society the way he needs to be, they would rather just throw him away, and I just don’t think that’s right,” added his stepfather.

To understand PTSD, you have to go through it, said McFarlane.

McFarlane’s attorney, Michael Gawecki, is trying to get the case transferred to a veterans’ court. Gawecki says getting this case to a veterans’ court will allow him to get treatment and readjustment counseling.

Right now, the case it being handled by the Allegan County Prosecutor’s Office. Gawecki says one of the assisting prosecuting attorneys said that “it doesn’t matter if Anthony is innocent or not; what matters is whether or not our office can get a conviction in front of a jury.”

We reached out to both the prosecutor’s office and the victim but haven’t heard back.

McFarlane’s next court date hasn’t been set.

His family says they are working on planning a peaceful protest where they are expecting hundreds of vets to show up in support.