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

(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.

Emma Scanlan, right, the civilian defense attorney for Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, talks to reporters, Tuesday Nov. 13, 2012.
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)
Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is shown, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012 on the final day of a his preliminary hearing at Joint Base Lewis McChord.
Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is shown, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012 on the final day of a his preliminary hearing at Joint Base Lewis McChord.   (AP Photo/Lois Silver)
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