Afghan shooting suspect has 'no memory' of incident - report

Tue Mar 20, 2012 5:27am IST

1 of 3. Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, (R) 1st platoon sergeant, Blackhorse Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, is seen during an exercise at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California, in this August 23, 2011 DVIDS handout photo.

Credit: Reuters/Department of Defence/Spc. Ryan Hallock/Handout

REUTERS - The U.S. soldier implicated in the massacre of 16 villagers in Afghanistan "has no memory" of the incident, his lawyer said on Monday after their first face-to-face meeting, according to CBS News.

"He has no memory of... 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," attorney John Henry Browne told CBS in an interview after speaking with U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales. The interview is set to air later this evening.

Browne met Bales at the military detention center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where Bales has been in solitary confinement since arriving there on Friday.

Bales, 38, a four-tour combat veteran, is suspected of walking off his base in southern Afghanistan on March 11 and gunning down the 16 civilians, including nine children and three women, in a massacre that damaged U.S.-Afghan relations.

Bales has not yet been charged, but an official from his home base near Tacoma, Washington, said on Monday that charges would likely be filed by the end of this week.

Browne was joined by Emma Scanlan, a civilian and member of Browne's Seattle law firm, and a military defense counsel, Major Thomas Hurley.

"It is too early to determine what factors may have played into this incident and the defense team looks forward to reviewing the evidence, examining all of Sergeant Bales' medical and personnel records and interviewing witnesses," Browne said in an earlier statement.

Separately, Bales' wife Karilyn issued a statement expressing sorrow for the victims in Afghanistan and asking for public understanding.

"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, so please do not ask," Bales' wife said in a statement circulated by Seattle attorney Lance Rosen. "I too want to know what happened. I want to know how this could be."

INJURIES, STRESS

Bales had been injured twice in his previous three deployments to Iraq, including losing part of a foot and suffering a concussion from a vehicle accident.

Browne has disputed reports that alcohol and marital problems may have influenced Bales' state of mind.

A high school football star from southern Ohio, Bales enlisted in the Army after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

His military training included sniper training as well as courses on military leadership and "combat life savers." He spent a total of 37 months in three deployments in Iraq between 2003 and 2010, and was distressed about being sent to back to a war zone for a fourth tour.

Bales married Karilyn Primeau in 2005, and the couple has two young children. Karilyn Bales and the children have been moved into military lodging at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma. She works for a local business communications firm.

The family has had financial struggles recently. Records show the couple own two properties, both of which have mortgage balances that are greater than the value of the properties.

Bales has had previous minor run-ins with the law: an assault in 2002 and a misdemeanor citation for leaving the scene of a car accident in 2008.

Major Chris Ophardt, a spokesman at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, told Reuters that charge sheets against Bales would be released by the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command in Afghanistan.

(Reporting by Peter Henderson, Bill Rigby and Laura Myers; Writing By Dan Burns; Editing by Bill Trott and Eric Walsh)

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