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BALES TRIAL: First Day of Army Staff Sergeant's Hearing Contains Chilling Testimony

The Lake Tapps man and Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier is accused of going on a nighttime killing spree March 11 in Afghanistan.

“My count is 20.”

That is what Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales told a fellow soldier hours after he allegedly carried out a killing spree covering two Afghan villages on March 11, according to a military prosecutor who spoke during a pre-trial hearing Monday.

Bales, a Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier, chillingly and methodically shot, killed and, in one case burned, entire civilian households, Lt. Col. Jospeh Morse told the military judge today.

Morse described how Bales – who sat in the court room in a camouflage uniform and sporting a shaved head - allegedly left his base, most likely out a southern gate and under the eye of an Afghan guard, and walked 600 meters north.

After the shootings and killings, he walked back to his base, his body caught on surveillance footage that was played for the court. He left base and came back again later that morning, Morse said.

When questioned by an Afghan guard, Bales, whose clothes were covered in blood from his victims, greeted him in the guard's native language.

Translated: “Hello.”

He did this again, the second time allegedly shooting his victims in the head and burning their bodies. The second time, when confronted outside of his base, Bales dropped his gun and was apprehended.

Bales appeared for his pre-trial hearing today. He faces numerous charges in the Article 32 hearing, including 16 specifications of premeditated murder.

Patch Editor Brent Champaco is attending the trial and will be providing updates via the comment section below.

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Brent Champaco November 05, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Shortly after 9 a.m., Military judge, a col., reads charges against Staff Sgt. Robert Bales. The charges include shooting and burning Afghanistan men, women and children, both boys and girls.
Brent Champaco November 05, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Judge reads Bales his rights, to which he replies, "Sir, yes sir." Marks the first time he speaks in court.
Brent Champaco November 05, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Prosecutor is describing alleged manner in which Bales "chillingly" carried out shootings, burning of Afghan civilians.
Brent Champaco November 05, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Prosecutor alleges that Bales told a fellow soldier after the shootings regarding the number of casualties: "My count is 20."
Brent Champaco November 05, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Bales' allegedly killed an entire household during his second departure from the base, prosecutor contends. The family consisted of 11 people, 10 of whom were women or girls, prosecutor says.
Brent Champaco November 05, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Prosecutor says the Army will ask for the death penalty if military judge refers charges. There was talk previously that wouldn't be the case. Wow.
Gina Cloum November 05, 2012 at 07:31 PM
We are praying for you Robert. We are praying those in charge will have mercy.
Gina Cloum November 05, 2012 at 07:37 PM
I am just in shock that the death penalty is on the table. I was so sure after the talks of how the military hasn't executed since 1960 it would be very unlikely. We are in constant prayer for Robert. How is his family holding up in the courtroom? How is Bob holding up, how does he look? Watching for comments as they come, thank you. Florida
Brent Champaco November 05, 2012 at 07:41 PM
Fellow soldier testifies that Bales told him after he surrendered: "It's bad. It's bad. It's real bad."
Brent Champaco November 05, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Cpl. David Godwin says he, Bales and another soldier were drinking the night of the shootings, and that the accused seemed normal.
Brent Champaco November 05, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Hi Gina. Thanks for sharing. SSgt. Bales hasn't really said much all day. He seems intent listening to the testimony. I can't see his wife, as we're not in the courtroom but we are watching a live feed from another room.
Brent Champaco November 05, 2012 at 09:37 PM
After break, Sgt. First Class Clayton Blackshear - the other person who spoke to Bales hours before he allegedly carried out the shooting - is on the stand.
Gina Cloum November 06, 2012 at 12:40 AM
We are following your comments through tonight and are so grateful. Can we expect your comments Tuesday? I assume they begin @ 0900? Again your comments are so appreciated to those who are here, thank you.Florida
Gina Cloum November 06, 2012 at 12:46 AM
We are sick, for Robert and his loved ones. As a mother of two Iraq vets I would personally ask for mercy for Robert Bales. As a registered nurse, I would ask if they can not reason to see this man had reached his breaking point and that is not worthy of death.It seems so black and white; he snapped, it happens and by the grace of God there go my two sons.Gina Cloum
mike hunt November 06, 2012 at 01:45 AM
He murdered 11 unarmed people! Yea somebody needs to pray for him alright.

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