JOINT BASE LEWIS McCHORD — Staff Sgt. Robert Bales could take the stand Thursday and apologize for his killings of 16 Afghan civicilan., Bales’ defense attorney John Henry Browne said.
Bales, 40, will not face cross examination from the prosecution since he is in the sentencing hearing phase of his trial.
Since his sentencing trial began Tuesday, jurors have heard dramatic testimony from witnesses and victims who survived Bales’ shooting rampage on March 11, 2012 when Bales murdered 16 Afghan civilians, including women and children. Afghan villager Haji Wazir lost 11 members of his family, including his mother, wife and 6 children. He spoke Wednesday of losing his entire family.
“If someone loses a child, imagine how devastating that would be, I lost an entire family,” Wazir said.
Wazir described that the children’s bodies were also set on fire.
“I had a good life, a happy family life,” Wazir told the court. Bales, he said, took that all away.
“I don’t think anyone can say with a rational mind that Bob Bales didn’t snap, Browne said. “I just don’t think you can argue that.”
Browne argued Bales suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and from a traumatic brain injury. Bales was on his fourth combat deployment when he committed the murders. But according to the prosecution, Bales is a bitter man, upset with his life at home, in deep financial trouble and was passed over for promotion. The prosecution also said Bales has a hatred for the Afghan people.
Jurors also heard from Bales’ friends and relatives Wendesday, and they largely described him as a caring person who loved people. William Bales, Bales’ older brother, told the court, his sibling loved people and he could think of no better parent.Bob Durham, who lived next to Bales as he grew up in Nebraska, said Bales was like another member of the family. Durham broke down in tears on the stand describing Bales compassion and how, as a teenager, he helped him care for his developmentally disabled son.
Former NFL Star Marc Edwards also testified on behalf of Bales, calling him a “good friend” and a “great leader.”
“Bales did things when he was 14, 15, 16 that are amazing,” Browne said, Wednesday’s hearing.
Bales could be sentenced to life in prison, but the six-member Army jury could allow for parole upon.