U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales has just received his sentencing for his massacre of 16 Afghan civilians last year. The military jury handed down a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Bales was convicted of killing 16 civilians, including mostly women and children, in their family compounds in March 2012. He had already confessed to slaughtering them, some of whom were still in their beds when he shot and killed them, and he has even apologized for the killings. He entered his guilty plea as part of a settlement to avoid receiving the death penalty in the case.
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When Robert Bales committed the atrocities, he was on his fourth combat deployment. His outpost was located at Camp Belambay in Kandahar province. UT San Diego reports that before sending the jurors out for deliberation on hits sentence, Lt. Col. Jay Morse asked them to make sure he is never released from prison. Under the plea deal, the only two sentences the jury was able to consider were life in prison without the possibility of parole and life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years.
“Sgt. Bales dares to ask you for mercy when he has shown none,” the website quotes him as saying.
Sgt. Bales’ attorney urged jurors to think about his prior years of military service and suggested that the weight of military service had caused him to snap. Attorney Emma Scanlan read from one of his last letters to his children and pointed to a letter sent by another soldier who said Robert Bales appeared to be having problems handling 10 years of war and death.
But prosecutors told jurors that Bales knew what he was doing and emphasized the horrific deaths of the villagers.