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Bales to face sanity review this weekend in Afghan massacre case

March 13, 2013|By Kim Murphy and Matt Pearce
  • Staff Sgt. Robert Bales will face a court-ordered sanity review this weekend. He is charged with killing 16 Afghan villagers.
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales will face a court-ordered sanity review this weekend.… (Spc. Ryan Hallock / DVIDS )

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. — Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, accused of killing 16 villagers and wounding six more in Afghanistan, will undergo a government sanity review this weekend to determine his mental state, his attorneys said.

Bales faces a military court-martial with the possibility of receiving the death penalty. His attorneys had previously opposed a sanity review, saying that the process was too favorable to military prosecutors, who also have opposed Bales' hopes for an insanity plea.

Bales would not have an attorney present during his review — a concern of his attorneys — but the military judge overseeing the case has agreed that the results of the exam would not automatically be shared with prosecutors, his attorneys told the Associated Press. 

Six Afghan civilians visited Joint Base Lewis-McChord last week to meet with both prosecution and defense attorneys, Army spokesman Lt. Col. Gary Dangerfield told the Los Angeles Times.

Dangerfield said the visit was to give the civilians an idea of what it would be like to testify for the court-martial and to finalize logistics.

Bales is accused of killing Afghan civilians in the villages of Alkozai and Najiban in the early hours of March 11. Witnesses have said he returned to a special forces base at Camp Belambay covered in blood.

His defense has said Bales suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a concussive head injury and was given steroids and alcohol by other soldiers at his base.

Prosecutors have previously argued that Bales was lucid and responsive when he returned to his base and was confronted by fellow soldiers, at one point apologizing for the killings. DNA evidence showed a match between the blood on Bales and blood found at one of the shooting scenes.

Bales attorney John Henry Browne told the Associated Press that the sanity review could last three to seven days; his fellow counsel, Emma Scanlan, said Bales would participate in the review because prosecutors would not receive basic information on Bales' mental health as a result of the exam.

Murphy reported from Joint Base Lewis-McChord; Pearce reported from Los Angeles.

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kim.murphy@latimes.com

matt.pearce@latimes.com

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