Army Seeks Death Penalty for Bales
But defense cites toxic mix of drugs, alcohol in stressful environment
By Liam Carnahan, Newser Staff
Posted Nov 14, 2012 6:33 AM CST
Emma Scanlan, right, the civilian defense attorney for Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, talks to reporters, Tuesday Nov. 13, 2012.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

(Newser) – Military prosecutors in the murder trial of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales are calling for the death penalty, saying that his "heinous, brutal, methodical, despicable” murders of 16 Afghan civilians in a shooting rampage, especially the nine children who died, merit the ultimate punishment, reports the New York Times. But Bales lawyer Emma Scanlan says that it's too early to make such a call, because the cocktail of alcohol, sleeping aids, and steroids that may have been in his system casts uncertainty on his mental state. Of the prosecution's depiction of a calculating, cold-blooded killer, she asked: “Why in the world is somebody who is supposedly so lucid wearing a cape?”

Scanlan also questions the testimonies of Bales' fellow soldiers, key witnesses for the prosecution, noting that they had admitted to drinking with Bales earlier that evening: “They drank a ton and they were all drunk," she said. The investigating officer overseeing the inquiry is expected to release a written opinion of the case later this week, though the final decision lies with military brass who are not bound by that. If Bales is sentenced to death, it will be the first time a servicemember has been executed by the military since 1961.

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