US Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales will serve life in prison without parole. The jury was out for less than two hours after Friday’s closing arguments in this week’s sentencing hearing.
As we reported in June, Robert Bales pleaded guilty to 16 counts of premeditated murder and related charges in connection with two attacks on villages in Afghanistan in March 2012.
He pled guilty in a deal to avoid the death penalty. However, as a result of the plea, he was required to walk through the gruesome crimes.
Afghan citizens of the villages had already offered their own description of the murders via satellite video. Many of them said that Bates ignored pleas from his victims and that he made a point of singling out vulnerable women and children.
The Army originally sought the death penalty in the horrific case.
In the immediate aftermath of the crime, the US Army was forced to temporarily halt military operations in Afghanistan. American investigators couldn’t reach the actual crime scenes for three weeks.
After Robert Bales’ guilty plea, he had little hope of avoiding a sentence of life in prison without parole. At least two of the six jurors would have had to agree that he deserved a chance at parole after serving 20 years.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, it’s possible that Bales’ own statement to a fellow soldier in between the two attacks sealed his fate. Prosecutors say he woke up a soldier when he returned for more ammunition by saying, “My count is 20.”
That’s how many people Bales believed he had already killed. Then he headed out again.
Tragically, the soldier didn’t believe Bales at the time — and went back to sleep.
CSM said that Bales himself doesn’t know why he carried out the massacre. His defense team said they could prove he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, but they decided not to raise the issue.
However, CNN noted that Bales had already admitted that he was using steroids and alcohol.
Their report said that the survivors of the massacre were still angry, with many of them demanding the death penalty. “We wanted this murderer to be executed, but we didn’t get our wish,” said a victim who said he lost 11 family members.
However, because of the plea deal, Robert Bales’ sentence of life in prison without parole was the expected outcome.