Hearing begins for soldier accused of killing 16 Afghans civilians

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By Sarah Barchus

The hearing for the American soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians on a shooting spree began Monday, the Cable News Network reported.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, 39, is at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state for an Article 32 hearing, which will determine if there is enough evidence to take the case to a full-court martial, the New York Times reported.

Bales is charged with six counts of premeditated murder, six counts of attempted murder and seven counts of assault, as well as illicit use of alcohol and steroids, CNN reported. In one of the worst criminal cases in decades, if Bales is convicted, he could face the death penalty, the New York Times reported.

One of the first witnesses, Cpl. David Godwin, said that he drank a few beers with Bales and another soldier while watching "Man on Fire," the night of the killings, the New York Times reported. Godwin said they drank moderately and didn't get drunk, CNN reported.

Another witness, Sgt. McLaughlin, said Bales woke him up at 2 a.m. and said that he had "shot some people up in a nearby village," CNN reported. McLaughlin said he didn't believe Bales and told him to go back to bed. Bales said he would be back at 5 a.m.

Lt. Col. Joseph Morse, the Army prosecutor, said that when Bales returned to the Army post in Kandahar Province in blood-soaked clothes, "he was lucid, coherent and responsive," the New York Times reported.

Bales was taken into custody when he reappeared at 4:30 a.m., CNN reported.

One of Bales's attorneys, John Henry Browne, said that Bales suffered from post-traumatic stress after three deployments in Iraq and four in Afghanistan, the New York Times reported.

The hearing is expected to last up to two weeks. Witnesses from Afghanistan will be testify through teleconference, CNN reported.

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This page contains a single entry by barch009 published on November 6, 2012 4:21 PM.

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