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Testimony: US soldier knew he killed Afghans

Associated Press Modified: November 7, 2012 at 4:01 am •  Published: November 7, 2012
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At one point, Bales made a joke — pointing his finger, in the shape of a gun, at two soldiers guarding him — in what they took as a failed effort to ease the tension.

But Bales also deliberately mangled his laptop, said two soldiers assigned to guard him as he gathered his things.

One of them, Sgt. Ross O'Rourke, testified that he removed the laptop from Bales' rucksack after the defendant told him he didn't want to take it with him. O'Rourke said Bales then grabbed the computer and folded the screen back, breaking it.

That didn't damage the hard drive, O'Rourke said, and investigators still could have retrieved information from the computer. O'Rourke didn't testify about what information might have been uncovered.

On Monday, Cpl. David Godwin testified that Bales asked him to bleach his blood-soaked clothes.

Two other soldiers, Pfcs. Derek Guinn and Damian Blodgett, testified Tuesday that they were on a guard shift early March 11 when they heard scattered gunfire coming from Alkozai, the first village attacked. They used thermal imaging and then shot up flares to illuminate the area, but couldn't make out what was going on.

Blodgett said he reported it to the operations center on base, and a specialist told them to monitor it and let him know if it came toward them.

The shooting lasted for 30 to 40 minutes, Blodgett said.

Guinn said he considered Bales to be bipolar: "Sometimes he was in a really good mood, and he seemed really angry sometimes, or easily annoyed."

Two other witnesses said that later, an interpreter arrived with two Afghan National Army soldiers who reported that they had seen an American come and go from the base. Guinn gave a slightly different account when he recalled that the interpreter said the soldiers had seen two Americans arrive on base, and one head back out.

After the shootings, some Afghan villagers questioned whether they could have been carried out by one soldier.

Bales has not entered a plea, and is not expected to testify. His attorneys, who did not give an opening statement, have not discussed the evidence, but say Bales has post-traumatic stress disorder and suffered a concussive head injury during a prior deployment to Iraq.

Bales has not participated in a medical evaluation known as a "sanity board," because his lawyers have objected to having him meet with Army doctors outside their presence.

Bales' lawyers called their first witness Tuesday, a soldier who bagged the blood-soaked clothes Bales had been wearing as evidence. The testimony focused primarily on how the evidence was handled.

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Johnson can be reached at https://twitter.com/GeneAPseattle