Bales Thought He 'Was Doing Right' in Afghan Massacre

Was surprised when told to drop weapons

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 6, 2012 8:51 AM CST

(Newser) – The US soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians in March was baffled when fellow soldiers told him to relinquish his weapons: Robert Bales told a fellow soldier "I thought I was doing the right thing," that soldier told the court at a hearing yesterday. Bales had been drinking whiskey and watching revenge-themed movie Man on Fire with other soldiers before the massacre, a prosecutor said; later, Bales put on a cape and killed 16 people.

Before leaving, Bales asked Sgt. Jason McLaughlin to "take care of my kids," McLaughlin said. During the night, he woke McLaughlin and reported what he'd done, noting that he was headed out to attack others. "I never got out of bed, sir," McLaughlin told the court. "I thought it was ridiculously out of the realm of normal possibility, sir." Surveillance video shows Bales was met on return by fellow soldiers with "weapons at the ready," the prosecutor said. Bales' response, according to McLaughlin: "Are you (expletive) kidding me?" Bales hasn't entered a plea and isn't likely to testify, the AP notes. Defense lawyers, who are expecting a court-martial, say Bales hardly remembers the night. But the prosecutor disagreed, telling the court that "at all times, he had a clear understanding of what he was doing and what he had done."

US Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, seated at front-right, listens Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, during a preliminary hearing in a military courtroom at Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington state.
US Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, seated at front-right, listens Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, during a preliminary hearing in a military courtroom at Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington state.   (AP Photo/Lois Silver)
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