|Sergeant 'Does Not Remember Everything' From Afghan Massacre Night|
|By MUHAMMAD LILA (@muhammadlila) , NEAL KARLINSKY (@NealKarlinsky) and BEN FORER (@BenForer)||Mar 19, 2012, 10:00 AM|
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales' lawyer John Henry Browne told ABC News that his client "does not remember eveything from" the day where he allegedly slaughtered 16 Afghan civilians.
In an interview with CBS News Browne said Bales has not confessed to the shootings and has large gaps in his memory from the night of March 11 when they occurred.
"He has an early memory of that evening. ... And he has a later memory of that evening but he does not have memory ... in between," Browne said.
In a statement today, Bales' wife, Karilyn, offered condolences from her family to the victims, many of them children, of the March 11 shooting.
"Our hearts go out too all of them, especially to the parents, brothers, sisters and grandparents of the children who perished," she said.
Karilyn Bales issued her statement as her husband met with his lawyer for the first time at the Fort Leavenworth military prison, and the U.S. military said that his trial will take place in the U.S., not Afghanistan.
But Mrs. Bales said she is mystified about what happened and how her husband, the father of their two children, could be accused of such an atrocity.
"Our family has little information beyond what we read and see in the media. What has been reported is completely out of character of the man I know and admire. Please respect me when I say I cannot shed any light on what happened that night... I too want to know what happened. I want to know how this could be," she said.
Karilyn Bales alluded to efforts to protect her family and says, "The pain inevitably inflicted in war should never be an excuse to inflict yet more pain. The cycle must be broken. We must find peace."
She ended her statement saying, "The victims and their families are all in my prayers, as is my husband who I love very much."
The U.S. told Afghan reporters that Bales' trial will not be held in Afghanistan, although the Afghan government has said he should be tried in Afghanistan.
U.S. military officials had previously said the location of the trial had not been determined and did not rule out having the trial in Afghanistan.
But in a briefing with Afghan journalists Sunday, a U.S. official said that Bales, 38, "will be tried in the United States. We have not determined, we are doing some coordination to find out what the final venue will be, but the proceedings will take place somewhere in the United States."
The transcript of the briefing was released today and the official spoke on the condition that he be identified only as a U.S. forces Afghanistan legal expert.
The source was asked how he could be tried in the U.S. when crucial witnesses are in the Afghan villages where the victims died during the March 11 massacre.
"The presence of the families and the victims is certainly going to be a consideration," the source said. " So that is part of the normal process in the United States and under our system."
Returning to the issue of witnesses later in the discussion, he said, "If he is brought to trial it is possible that Afghan witnesses and victims would be brought over."
He also said that no representative of the Afghan government will be part of the prosecution team. The Afghan government is conducting its own investigation of the killings and so far has indicated it believes more than one U.S. soldier was involved.
Bales has yet to be charged, although charges could be filed as early as today.
The source also indicated that this case will not be quickly adjudicated.
"In a complex case like this, there will be a lot evidence to collect and it may take a significant amount of time to collect that evidence," he said.
He later added, "In a case like this it will be a very complex trial because of the accusations, and it may take a period of time."
According to military law expert Eugene Fidell, Bales will likely face either life in prison with possibility of parole or the death penalty, a punishment the military hasn't carried out since 1961.
In capital cases deposition testimony is not allowed, Fidell told ABC News. This means if there are Afghan witnesses to the massacre, they must travel to the U.S. to testify in person. And since they cannot be forced to testify some witnesses may decided not to make the trip because they do not trust the U.S. military.
Bales, a father of two, is represented by John Henry Browne a Seattle attorney whose clients have included serial killer Ted Bundy and Colton Harris-Moore, the "Barefoot Bandit." Browne, who said he has taken on only three or four military cases, will have a team that includes at least one military lawyer.
"You couldn't imagine a more difficult case, I don't think," Browne said. "This case has political ramifications, it has legal ramifications, it has social ramifications. So you couldn't really imagine a bigger case."
Sgt. Robert Bales Will Be Tried in U.S., Not in Afghanistan
Bales is being held in an isolated cell at Fort Leavenworth's military prison in Kansas. During a break in his meeting with Bales today, the lawyer told the Associated Press, "What's going on on the ground in Afghanistan, you read about it, I read about it, but it's totally different when you hear about it from somebody who's been there. It's just really emotional."
The sergeant is a man some describe as a virtual case study in what war can do to a person. Neighbors, friends and fellow soldiers all describe him as an easy going family man.
"It's like you're talking about two totally different people," Michelle Cadell, Bales former neighbor, told ABC News. "Every older woman in the neighborhood calls him 'my Bobby,' not Bobby Bales. You don't know who Bobby Bales is. It's my Bobby."
Cadell and her brother, Michael Blevins, grew up across the street from Bales in Ohio and idolized him. Bales played little league baseball and eventually became captain of his high school football team. He was a young man who took care of a disabled neighbor after school and went into finance in his early 20s.
"From the time I was able to walk I was pretty much right at his heels watching what he was doing, being there as much as I could be to learn from him," Blevins said.
Things changed after Bales enlisted in the military following 9/11. Between three tours in Iraq there were scuffles with the law, an assault charge, court ordered anger management and financial troubles.
Karilyn Bales wrote on her blog that her husband was "very disappointed" to not get a promotion last year "after all the sacrifices he has made for his love of country."
The family was planning to move and had just put their house up for sale when the massacre happened.
"They're very supportive, very loving. It's a great family and I'm really happy to be helping them," Browne said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.