August 21, 2013

U.S. soldier faces more villagers at massacre sentencing

Haji Mohammad Wazir takes the witness stand during the sentencing of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales to describe the impact of losing 11 family members, including his mother, wife and six of his seven children.

By Gene Johnson / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

In this Aug. 23, 2011, photo, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales participates in an exercise at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.

AP / DVIDS, Spc. Ryan Hallock

He said halting combat operations in the area allowed Taliban personnel to openly carry weapons and lay roadside bombs. Clearing those bombs eventually set the U.S. mission there back about three weeks.

At the time of the killings, Bales had been under heavy personal, professional and financial stress, Morse said. He had complained to other soldiers that his wife was fat and unattractive and said he'd divorce her except that her father had money. He had stopped paying the mortgage on one of his houses because it was assessed at $60,000 less than he paid for it, and he was upset that he had not been promoted.

During his plea hearing in June, Bales couldn't explain to a judge why he committed the killings. "There's not a good reason in this world for why I did the horrible things I did," he said.

He did not say he was sorry, but his lawyers hinted an apology might come at sentencing.

Bales' attorneys have said they plan to present evidence that could warrant leniency, including his previous deployments and what they describe as his history of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

If he is sentenced to life with the possibility of parole, Bales would be eligible in 20 years, but there's no guarantee he would receive it.

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