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U.S. Soldier Robert Bales Sentenced To Life In Prison Without Parole For Afghanistan Massacre

Posted by on Aug. 23, 2013 at 3:44 PM
  • 22 Replies

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. — The U.S. soldier who massacred 16 Afghan civilians last year in one of the worst atrocities of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars was sentenced Friday to life in prison with no chance of parole.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, 40, who pleaded guilty in June in a deal to avoid the death penalty, showed no emotion as the verdict was announced at Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Seattle.

Bales' mother, sitting in the front row of the court, bowed her head, rocked in her seat, and wept. An interpreter flashed a thumbs-up sign to a row of Afghan villagers who were either injured or lost family members in the March 11, 2012 attacks.

Bales never offered an explanation for why he armed himself with a 9 mm pistol and an M-4 rifle and left his post on the killing mission, but he apologized on the witness stand Thursday and described the slaughter as an "act of cowardice, behind a mask of fear, bulls--- and bravado."

The six-member jury weighing whether he should be eligible for parole after 20 years took less than 90 minutes to decide the case in favor of prosecutors who described him as a "man of no moral compass."

"In just a few short hours, Sgt. Bales wiped out generations," Lt. Col. Jay Morse told the jury in his closing argument. "Sgt. Bales dares to ask you for mercy when he has shown none."

A commanding general overseeing the court-martial has the option of reducing the sentence to life with the possibility of parole.

Defense attorney Emma Scanlan begged the jurors in her closing to consider her client's prior life and years of good military service, and suggested he snapped under the weight of his fourth combat deployment. She read from a letter Bales sent to his children 10 weeks before the killing: "The children here are a lot like you. They like to eat candy and play soccer. They all know me because I juggle rocks for them."

"These aren't the words of a cold-blooded murderer," Scanlan said.

She also read from a letter sent by a fellow soldier, a captain who said that Bales seemed to have trouble handling a decade of war and death: "The darkness that had been tugging at him for the last 10 years swallowed him whole."

Prosecutors laying out the case for a life term, argued that Bales' own "stomach-churning" words demonstrated that he knew exactly what he was doing when he walked to the two nearby villages, shooting 22 people in all – 17 of them women and children, some of them as they screamed for help, others as they slept.

"My count is 20," Bales told another soldier when he returned to the base.

Morse displayed a photograph of a girl's bloodied corpse and described how Bales executed her where she should have felt safest – beside her father, who was also murdered.

Morse also played a surveillance video of Bales returning to the base after the killings, marching with "the methodical, confident gait of a man who's accomplished his mission."

Bales, an Ohio native and father of two from Lake Tapps, Wash., was under personal, financial and professional stress at the time. He had stopped paying the mortgage on one of his houses, was concerned about his wife's spending and hadn't received a promotion he wanted.

"Sgt. Bales commits these barbaric acts because he takes stock of his life," Morse said. "Sgt. Bales thinks the rest of the world is not giving him what he deserves."

The closing arguments came a day after Bales apologized for the attack, saying he'd bring back the victims "in a heartbeat" if he could.

"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."

He 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 him testify.





Your thoughts ladies?

by on Aug. 23, 2013 at 3:44 PM
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Replies (1-10):
GreenEyePixie
by Platinum Member on Aug. 23, 2013 at 3:48 PM
4 moms liked this
As bad as his stress was, he deserves the sentence he got. Those weren't insurgents he killed, they were innocent civilians. They didn't deserve to die.

My heart goes out to those families and to his family who has to live with this nightmare forever.
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Anonymous
by Anonymous 1 on Aug. 23, 2013 at 3:48 PM
1 mom liked this

I always thought there was something really screwy about that whole situation (aside from the obvious).

3JuJu3
by Platinum Member on Aug. 23, 2013 at 3:51 PM

He deserves that sentence.  I also hope he get's the mental health care that he needs. 

Sbellemommy
by Silver Member on Aug. 23, 2013 at 3:52 PM

Good

PinkButterfly66
by Emerald Member on Aug. 23, 2013 at 3:52 PM
2 moms liked this

The military should take a long hard look at itself.  It broke this man.  He committed the murders, but the military turned him into a killer.  The military kept sending him back.  

Cmgmqmmom
by Ruby Member on Aug. 23, 2013 at 3:53 PM
1 mom liked this
Those are not the actions of a man in his right mind. However, the sentence is justified.
Anonymous
by Anonymous 2 on Aug. 23, 2013 at 3:54 PM
Now all we need to do is take care of the rapists.
mama-sita
by on Aug. 23, 2013 at 3:54 PM

But was it really the military?  I mean, I know they don't take care of their people, but could it have also been a shortcoming on his part?  My boyfriend did two tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq.  He still would not walk into a village and open fire on innocent people.


Quoting PinkButterfly66:

The military should take a long hard look at itself.  It broke this man.  He committed the murders, but the military turned him into a killer.  The military kept sending him back.  



PinkButterfly66
by Emerald Member on Aug. 23, 2013 at 3:57 PM
1 mom liked this

Yes, I firmly belive that it is the fault of the military.  These soldiers are not getting the mental health treatment that they need.  They are sent into multiple tours.  They've known for a long time what battle fatigue can do to a mind.  There was plenty of evidence from the Vietnam war.

Quoting mama-sita:

But was it really the military?  I mean, I know they don't take care of their people, but could it have also been a shortcoming on his part?  My boyfriend did two tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq.  He still would not walk into a village and open fire on innocent people.


Quoting PinkButterfly66:

The military should take a long hard look at itself.  It broke this man.  He committed the murders, but the military turned him into a killer.  The military kept sending him back.  




Anonymous
by Anonymous 3 on Aug. 23, 2013 at 3:59 PM
Good, as a person who has family (in laws) in Afghanistan, that is heartbreaking.
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