Bales to hear case against him in deadly Afghanistan spree
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales
November 5th, 2012
06:09 AM ET

Bales to hear case against him in deadly Afghanistan spree

By Larry Shaughnessy

(CNN) - Starting Monday, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales will hear details of the military prosecutors' case against him regarding a deadly shooting spree in Afghanistan in March.

Sixteen civilian villagers died in the rampage, and six others were injured. The attack triggered protests in Afghanistan and Pakistan and condemnation from Afghan President Karzai and President Barack Obama. The Taliban threatened revenge.

On the night of the shooting, Bales was seen leaving a small base in Afghanistan's Kandahar province alone. He later returned and turned himself in to fellow soldiers. Bales allegedly told his roommate at the base that he'd been killing Afghan civilians, but his attorney, John Henry Browne, denies thi

Following Afghan tradition, the 16 victims were buried soon after the deaths, before any autopsy could be done. Some legal experts have told CNN that could present a difficulty for prosecutors. But there were photographs taken of the victims and survivors who saw it happen. Also, if any rounds were recovered from the scene and matched his weapon, they could be used as evidence against Bales.

The court proceeding that begins Monday is called an Article 32 hearing, after the section of the military code of justice that dictates how it works. It's sort of a combination of a grand jury hearing and a preliminary hearing in a civilian criminal case. But there are significant differences.

For instance, there will be significant testimony from many of the potential witnesses in the case, and unlike in a grand jury case, Bales and his attorney will be there and able to cross-examine the witnesses against him or even present witnesses of their own.

This Article 32 hearing will be even more unusual in that the courtroom at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, where Bales is being held, will be linked by satellite to Afghanistan, where some of the witnesses will testify by teleconference.

On some days, the hearing in Washington state won't even begin until dinner time, when the day is just beginning on the other side of the world in Afghanistan.

Bales is charged with 16 counts of premeditated murder, six counts of attempted murder and seven counts of assault. He's also charged with illicit use of alcohol and steroids.

Browne said the steroid use will be a key factor in his client's defense. "Steroid use is going to be an issue in this case, especially where Sgt. Bales got steroids and how he got steroids," Browne told CNN last spring.

The hearing is expected to last two weeks.

In one other difference from civilian court, the person who acts as the judge in the case will not make a decision about whether the case should go to trial in a court-martial. He or she will make a recommendation to the officer who ordered that the hearing be held. That person will decide which, if any, charges Bales will face at trial and also whether prosecutors will pursue the death penalty in the case.

soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Justin

    Liberace, you sound like the "d0chEbag"

    Joseph, you are right in one case, they were burned on purpose as they were being used to communicate via code and plan activities. though, we have no moral obligation to apolgize to anyone in Afganastan, that country was a complete mess, and their people did nothing to keep their "house clean". The people of that nation lived under and did nothing to prevent or stand up to murderers. You hear stories of a little girl getting shot in Pakastan because she wanted to go to school? welcome to decades of Afganastan left to its own devices. That nation is a thousand times better off now then it was before, and if it wanted to be left alone, it should have policed itself.

    November 10, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Reply
  2. Liberace; America's Greatest American

    Mass murdering POS!

    Hang this pr!ck!

    November 7, 2012 at 1:12 am | Reply
  3. NNN

    Isn't this just like the low life coward who murders women and children and then tries to deny he did it when he goes to trial.

    November 6, 2012 at 8:56 am | Reply
  4. George Patton

    I wonder if this clown will get what's coming to him. I kind of doubt it as this is most probably another show trial to make us look good to the rest of the world. I'm still outraged at the very sight of those Marines urinating on those dead bodies of the purportedly "Taliban Militants". This whole obnoxious war is a national disgrace and we need to get out of Afghanistan as soon as possible and stop our aggressive foreign policies!!!

    November 5, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Reply
    • Ken Rhode

      He is suffering from PTSD, he wasnt thinking straight. he should get the insanity plea and not get the death penalty

      November 6, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Reply
  5. Jo

    Wow they accidently burned a Quran. The Taliban is outraged! Imagine that. I wonder did they become outraged at this incident right after they threw that ACID in those little girl's faces for going to school?, or were they outraged after three suicide bombers blew up 300 women and children? Or were they outraged before that?

    November 5, 2012 at 8:01 am | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      That Quran that you're talking about was burned accidently on purpose, Jo. Besides, weren't you angry when you saw that video showing those Marines urinating on those dead bodies last January? I sure was and how! The bottom line Jo, is that we have a moral obligation to apologize to the Afghan people for occupying their country and get out of there as soon as possible!

      November 5, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Reply
    • Liberace; America's Greatest American

      Well, well......if it isn't Jo.

      The phony soldier and greasy chickenhawk. Still "keepin' us safe, d0uchEbag?

      November 7, 2012 at 1:14 am | Reply

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