A judge has accepted the guilty plea of a a soldier accused of murdering 16 Afghan civilians. The plea spares the life of the soldier based at Joint Base Lewis McChord. He still faces trial to determine if he'll ever be eligible for parole.
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales was dressed in his formal uniform and remained matter-of-fact and composed, as he admitted to killing and then burning some of his 16 victims. His voice broke briefly and he sighed deeply about halfway through, recounting how he left his post to visit the two villages with premeditated intent to kill.
When asked by judge Jeffrey Nance to describe his intent that night, Bales paused briefly to consult with his attorney Emma Scanlan.
This is important, because his answer could impact his trial. Defense has indicated they will argue “mitigating circumstances."
The judge then asked Bales: “What was your reason for killing them?”
His response: “Sir, I’ve asked that question a million times since then, and there’s not a good reason in the world for why I did the horrible things I did.”
During the proceedings, Bales also admitted to possessing and using steroids.
The slayings last year drew such angry protests that the U.S. temporarily halted combat operations in Afghanistan. It was three weeks before American investigators could reach the crime scene over concerns for their safety.
Copyright 2013 KUOW