JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD — Nine Afghan villagers — including some who were shot — could talk this week in Staff Sgt. Robert Bales’ sentencing hearing regarding his shooting in the Kandahar Province in 2012.
As of 10:07 a.m. Tuesday, prosecutors and defense attorneys were interviewing potential jurors in Bales’ sentencing. At least two of the jurors were in Afghanistan on March 11, when Bales’ went on a violent shooting spree and killed 16 Afghan civilians. The 39-year-old Bales has pleaded guilty to the murders. Since Bales’ trial is occurring in military court, all of the potential jurors are active-duty military members. Between five and 10 senior soldiers are expected to serve as jurors.
Some of the potential jurors admitted to the judge that they believe PTSD played a part in Bales’ rampage.
The Tacoma News Tribune reported Tuesday that no female victims were flown to the U.S. to testify. At least two young boys made the trip, some of whom received medical attention from NATO bases following the shooting. Others who could take the stand include Bales’ wife, fellow infantrymen, relatives and high school teammates of Bales, the News Tribune reported.
Defense attorneys are expected to rely heavily on Bales’ reported mental state at the time of the shootings, saying alcohol and stress played a large role in the killings.