Staff Sgt. Robert Bales to admit Afghan massacre - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales to admit Afghan massacre

Posted: Updated:
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers during nighttime raids. (DoD file photo via AP) Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers during nighttime raids. (DoD file photo via AP)

By GENE JOHNSON | AP

SEATTLE (AP) -- The Army staff sergeant charged with slaughtering 16 villagers during one of the worst atrocities of the Afghanistan war has agreed to plead guilty in a deal to avoid the death penalty, his attorney told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is scheduled to enter guilty pleas to charges of premeditated murder June 5 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Seattle, said lawyer John Henry Browne. A sentencing-phase trial set for September will determine whether he is sentenced to life in prison with or without the possibility of parole. The judge and the commanding general at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, where Bales is being held, must approve a plea deal.

"The judge will be asking questions of Sgt. Bales about what he did, what he remembers and his state of mind," Browne said. "The deal that has been worked out ... is they take the death penalty off the table, and he pleads as charged, pretty much."

An Army spokeswoman at Joint Base Lewis-McChord did not immediately return a call seeking comment Wednesday.

Browne previously indicated Bales remembered little from the night of the massacre, and he said that was true in the early days after the attack. But as further details and records emerged, Bales' began to remember what he did, the lawyer said.

Bales is contrite about the killings, Browne said. The attorney would not elaborate on what his client will tell the judge. He described Bales as "crazed" and "broken" the night of the attack.

The defense team, including military lawyers assigned to Bales as well as Browne's co-counsel, Emma Scanlan, eventually determined after having Bales examined by psychiatrists that he would not be able to prove any claim of insanity or diminished capacity at the time of the attack, Browne said.

Bales, an Ohio native and father of two from Lake Tapps, Wash., slipped away from his remote southern Afghanistan outpost at Camp Belambay early on March 11, 2012, and attacked mud-walled compounds in two slumbering villages nearby. He had been drinking contraband alcohol, snorting Valium that was provided to him by another soldier, and had been taking steroids before the attack.

Most of the victims were women and children, and some of the bodies were piled and burned. The slayings drew such angry protests that the U.S. temporarily halted combat operations in Afghanistan. It was three weeks before American investigators could reach the crime scenes.

Bales was serving his fourth tour in a combat zone, and the allegations against him raised questions about the toll multiple deployments were taking on American troops. For that reason, many legal experts believed it that it was unlikely that he would receive the death penalty, as Army prosecutors were seeking. The military justice system hasn't executed anyone since 1961.

Nevertheless, the plea deal could inflame tensions in Afghanistan. In interviews with the AP in Kandahar in April, relatives of the victims became outraged at the notion Bales might escape the death penalty and even vowed revenge.

"For this one thing, we would kill 100 American soldiers," said Mohammed Wazir, who had 11 family members killed that night, including his mother and 2-year-old daughter.

"A prison sentence doesn't mean anything," said Said Jan, whose wife and three other relatives died. "I know we have no power now. But I will become stronger, and if he does not hang, I will have my revenge."

Three of Jan's other family members were wounded, including his 7-year-old granddaughter, who was shot in the head.

AP's special regional correspondent for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Kathy Gannon, contributed from Kandahar.

  • MilitaryMore>>

  • USS Saratoga heads to be scrapped

    USS Saratoga heads to be scrapped

    Thursday, August 21 2014 3:47 PM EDT2014-08-21 19:47:03 GMT
    The decommissioned aircraft carrier USS Saratoga left its port in Rhode Island on Thursday for its final journey to Texas, where it will be scrapped. The ship departed Naval Station Newport and made its way down Narragansett Bay to the Atlantic Ocean. It is heading to the Esco Marine ship recycling plant in Brownsville, Texas.
    The decommissioned aircraft carrier USS Saratoga left its port in Rhode Island on Thursday for its final journey to Texas, where it will be scrapped. The ship departed Naval Station Newport and made its way down Narragansett Bay to the Atlantic Ocean. It is heading to the Esco Marine ship recycling plant in Brownsville, Texas.
  • Mission to save Foley, other hostages in Syria failed

    Mission to save Foley, other hostages in Syria failed

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 10:09 PM EDT2014-08-21 02:09:36 GMT
    President Barack Obama sent special operations troops to Syria this summer on a secret mission to rescue American hostages, including journalist James Foley, held by Islamic State extremists, but they did not find them, the administration disclosed Wednesday. Officials said the rescue mission was authorized after intelligence agencies believed they had identified the location inside Syria where the hostages were being held.
    President Barack Obama sent special operations troops to Syria this summer on a secret mission to rescue American hostages, including journalist James Foley, held by Islamic State extremists, but they did not find them, the administration disclosed Wednesday. Officials said the rescue mission was authorized after intelligence agencies believed they had identified the location inside Syria where the hostages were being held.
  • New York gives tuition break to veterans

    New York gives tuition break to veterans

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 4:44 PM EDT2014-08-19 20:44:17 GMT
    Education NewsEducation News
    New York is encouraging veterans to go back to school and making it easier for the families of service members who relocate to the state. A new state law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday will give veterans in-state tuition rates at state colleges and universities even if they wouldn't otherwise qualify.
    New York is encouraging veterans to go back to school and making it easier for the families of service members who relocate to the state. A new state law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday will give veterans in-state tuition rates at state colleges and universities even if they wouldn't otherwise qualify.
Powered by WorldNow
Untitled

WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
5151 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20016
Main Number: (202) 244-5151
Newsroom: (202) 895-3000
fox5tips@wttg.com

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices