June 6, 2013 - The American soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians, many of them women and children who were asleep in their villages, pleaded guilty to murder Wednesday and acknowledged to a judge that there was "not a good reason in this world" for his actions.
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales' plea ensures that he will avoid the death penalty for the middle-of-the night slayings that so inflamed tensions with the people of Afghanistan that the American military suspended combat operations there.
Prosecutors say Bales slipped away before dawn on March 11, 2012, from his base in Kandahar Province. Armed with a 9 mm pistol and an M-4 rifle equipped with a grenade launcher, he attacked a village of mud-walled compounds called Alkozai, then returned and woke up a fellow soldier to tell him about it.
The soldier didn't believe Bales and went back to sleep. Bales then left to attack a second village known as Najiban.
"He is broken, he was broken, and we broke him," said Bales' attorney, John Henry Browne, in an interview as reported by CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy. He said Bales is worried about a backlash against U.S. soldiers still in Afghanistan.
"He's very concerned about the soldiers on the ground," Browne said. "He's very concerned about [the] Afghan people and wants to apologize."
Wednesday's proceedings at Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Seattle marked the first time Bales provided a public account of the massacre.
Bales was serving his fourth deployment. Until the attacks, he had a good, if undistinguished, military record in a decade-long career. The Ohio native suffered from PTSD and a traumatic brain injury, his lawyers say, and he had been drinking contraband alcohol and snorting Valium -- both provided by other soldiers -- the night of the killings.
Bales said he was also taking three doses of steroids each week to make himself "smaller, leaner, more fit for the mission," and to help him recover quickly after rigorous activity.
The drugs "definitely increased my irritability and anger," he said.
Given Bales' prior deployments and apparent PTSD, military law experts had suggested that a jury was unlikely to sentence him to death. Browne had sought to place blame with the military for sending Bales back to war in the first place. read more>>>