Friday is the fourth day of pretrial hearings for U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales. Bales is accused of massacring 16 Afghan civilians, mostly women and children, in March. The proceedings at Joint Base Lewis-McChord are also known as an Article 32 hearing. They will determine whether the case will advance to court-martial, where the government has stated it plans to seek the death penalty.
Prosecutors say Bales in the early morning hours slipped away from his remote post, in Kandahar province. They say he first attacked one village, returned to the base, and headed out again to attack another village.
An Army DNA expert testified about her analysis of clothing, a rifle and other equipment belonging to Staff Sgt. Bales. She said it was covered in the blood of nine people: four unidentified women and five unidentified men.
Forensic evidence taken from walls and pillow cases at victims’ homes also contained blood evidence.
However, further questioning revealed that only one DNA match from those nine people was present both at the Afghan home and on the equipment prosecutors say Bales was carrying during the alleged attacks.
A textile expert also testified that fibers taken from a pillow case at a home in one of the villages where the attacks occurred matched those on the so called “cape” that Bales was wearing night he was taken into custody.
Afghan villagers and soldiers are expected to testify by video from Afghanistan Friday and through the weekend.
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales was not in the courtroom.
Copyright 2012 KUOW