Judge: I’ll rule soon on motion to dismiss Bales’ prosecutors

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JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD —  An Army judge said he’ll decide soon if he will remove prosecutors from the case of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who pleaded guilty in June to killing 16 Afghan civilians last year.

robert-bales1His lawyers want to see the prosecution team taken off the case after, they say, the prosecutors incorrectly received an unredacted sanity-board report that evaluated Bales’ mental health.

“The only remedy  that makes any sense is to disqualify the government attorneys who saw it,” said Emma Scanlon, one of Bales’ lawyers.

She said she believes the report gave the prosecution an unfair advantage in the final phase of the case.

Bales pleaded guilty to killing the civilians in two Afghan villages March 2012 during an alcohol-fueled rage. His lawyers say he also suffers from post-ttaumatic stress disorder after four tours of combat duty.

Prosecutors told the judge exposure to the report shouldn’t mean automatic disqualification.  Capt. Chad Fisher said, “It has no effect on the government’s sentencing requests. That will rely on witnesses.”

A change in prosecution could set the case back weeks or even months if the judge agrees with Bales’ lawyers.  Final arguments in the sentencing phase of the court martial begin Aug. 19 and will determine whether or not Bales will spend the rest of his life behind bars or one day be eligible for parole.

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