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Pretrial Hearing For Staff Sgt. Bales Concludes

Austin Jenkins

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCHORD, Wash. - A pretrial hearing for Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales has concluded at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Bales is the soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians earlier this year – most of them young children. The defense is focused on Bales’ state of mind.

In closing arguments, Bales’ attorney Emma Scanlan challenged the prosecution’s assertion that Bales carried out the massacre in a methodical manner.

“Why in the world is somebody who’s supposedly so lucid wearing a cape,” asked Scanlan. She was referring to witnesses who testified Bales returned to his southern Afghanistan outpost after the killings armed, bloodied and wearing a cape around his neck.

Outside court, Scanlan told reporters Bales’ was under the influence while serving his fourth combat deployment.

“We need to know what it means when somebody is on steroids, alcohol and sleeping aids," she said. "What does that mean about his state of mind?”

Scanlan also raised the specter that perhaps more than one gunman was involved in the killings. The prosecution says these attacks were the work of one rogue soldier.

Next the Army will decide if Bales should proceed to a full court martial and, if so, whether he should face the death penalty if convicted.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."