Advertisement

You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Bales sentenced to life in prison, no chance of parole

Aug. 23, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
A military jury on Friday sentenced Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, 40, who massacred 16 Afghan civilians last year to life in prison without a chance of parole. Bales pleaded guilty in June in a deal to avoid the death penalty.
A military jury on Friday sentenced Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, 40, who massacred 16 Afghan civilians last year to life in prison without a chance of parole. Bales pleaded guilty in June in a deal to avoid the death penalty. (AP)
  • Filed Under

Afghan villagers unsatisfied by sentence

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Afghan villagers who traveled nearly 7,000 miles to testify against Staff Sgt. Robert Bales say they're far from satisfied with his sentence for massacring 16 of their relatives.
A military jury on Friday sentenced the 40-year-old to life in prison without the possibility of release for his pre-dawn raids in Kandahar province in March 2012. It was the most severe punishment possible after he pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty.
Several villagers spoke with reporters after the sentence was announced. Hajji Mohammad Wazir, who lost 11 family members, says they wanted Bales executed. — AP

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – A military jury on Friday sentenced a U.S. soldier who massacred 16 Afghan civilians last year to life in prison without a chance of parole.

The decision came in the case of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, 40, who pleaded guilty in June in a deal to avoid the death penalty.

Bales did not recount specifics of the horrors in court when he testified Thursday or offer an explanation for the violence, but he described the killings as an "act of cowardice, behind a mask of fear, bulls--- and bravado."

"I'm truly, truly sorry to those people whose families got taken away," he said in a mostly steady voice during questions from one of his lawyers. "I can't comprehend their loss. I think about it every time I look at my kids."

Bales said he hoped his words would be translated for the nine villagers who traveled from Afghanistan to testify against him — none of whom elected to be in court to hear from him.

His statements were not made under oath, which prevented prosecutors from cross-examining him.

Bales, a father of two from Lake Tapps, Wash., was serving his fourth combat deployment when he left his outpost at Camp Belambay, in Kandahar province, in the middle of the night to attack two villages.

The nine Afghans — some angry and at least one cursing Bales — testified over two days about their lives since the attacks. Haji Mohammad Wazir said he lost 11 relatives, including his mother, wife and six of his seven children.

"If someone loses one child, you can imagine how devastated their life would be," Wazir said. "If anybody speaks to me about the incident ... I feel the same, like it's happening right now."

Attorneys for Bales made much of Bales' repeated deployments and suggested that post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury may have played a role in the killings. But they offered no testimony from psychiatrists or other doctors, saying they saw little point in making the case a battle of the experts.

Instead, they had Bales and some of his fellow soldiers testify about the difficulties they endured and the images that stuck with them after earlier tours in Iraq. They rested their defense after Bales finished speaking.

In his closing argument, the prosecutor, Lt. Col. Jay Morse, displayed photos of a young girl who was executed as she screamed and cried, as well as surveillance video of Bales returning to the base with what Morse called "the methodical, confident gait of a man who's accomplished his mission."

While questioning other witnesses, prosecutors noted Bales' checkered past, including a fraud investigation and eventual $1.5 million judgment, a drunken-driving arrest in 2005, a driving under the influence crash in 2008, and lies on re-enlistment documents about his criminal history.

Bales' lawyers did their best to paint a sympathetic picture of a patriotic man who was an ideal father and had been his senior class president and quarterback of the high school football team in Norwood, Ohio.

Answers by RallyPoint

Join trending discussions in the military's #1 professional community. See what members like yourself have to say from across the DoD.

More In News

Start your day with a roundup of top defense news.

VA Home Loan
Rates

Search By:

Product Options:
Zip Code:

News for your in-box

Sign up now for free Military Times E-Reports. Choose from Money and Education. Subscribers: log in for premium e-newsletters.


This Week's Army Times

This Week's Army Times

'Get on the trail'
Drill sergeant duty is tough, but offers serious rewards

Subscribe for Print or Digital delivery today!

Classifieds
MilitaryTimes Green Trusted Classifieds Looking to buy, sell and connect on Military Times?
Browse expanded listings across hundreds of military installations.
Faces of valorHonoring those who fought and died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
hall of valorThe Hall of Valor is a searchable database of valor award citations collected by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and Military Times contributing editor, and by Military Times staff.
Woman who cried rape
(3 replies)
   Last Post: TJMAC77SP
        May 3, 2014 1:32 PM
   Last Post: garhkal
        May 1, 2014 5:03 PM
Cliven Bundy
(45 replies)
   Last Post: Chief_KO
        Apr 26, 2014 9:49 AM
Handbooks

All you need to know about your military benefits.

Benefits handbook

Guard & Reserve All you need to know about the Guard & Reserve.

guard and reserve handbook