Sunday, April 22, 2018

Soldier in massacre gets life sentence

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. — The U.S. soldier who massacred 16 Afghan civilians last year in one of the worst atrocities of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars was sentenced Friday to life in prison with no chance of parole — the most severe sentence possible, but one that left surviving victims and relatives of the dead deeply unsatisfied.

"We wanted this murderer to be executed," said Hajji Mohammad Wazir, who lost 11 family members in the attack by Staff Sgt. Robert Bales. "We were brought all the way from Afghanistan to see if justice would be served. Not our way — justice was served the American way."

Bales, 40, pleaded guilty in June in a deal to avoid the death penalty for his March 11, 2012, raids near his remote outpost in Kandahar province. During the raids, he stalked through mud-walled compounds and shot 22 people — 17 of them women and children. Some screamed for mercy, while others didn't even have a chance to get out of bed.

The soldier showed no emotion as the sentence was announced at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, south of Seattle.

His mother, sitting in the front row of the court, bowed her head, rocked in her seat and wept.

An interpreter flashed a thumbs-up sign to a row of Afghan villagers who were either wounded or lost family members in the attacks.

"I saw his mother trying to cry, but at least she can go visit him," Hajji Mohammad Naim, who was shot in the neck, said after the sentencing. "What about us? Our family members are actually 6 feet under."

Bales never offered an explanation for why he armed himself with a 9mm pistol and an M-4 rifle and left his post on the killing mission.

The six-member jury weighing whether he would be eligible for parole after 20 years took about 90 minutes to decide the case in favor of prosecutors who described Bales as a "man of no moral compass."

"In just a few short hours, Sgt. Bales wiped out generations," Lt. Col. Jay Morse told the jury in his closing argument. "Sgt. Bales dares to ask you for mercy when he has shown none."

A commanding general overseeing the court-martial has the option of reducing the sentence to life with the possibility of parole.

Defense attorney Emma Scanlan argued for the lighter sentence, begging jurors to consider her client's prior life and years of good military service and suggested he snapped under the weight of his fourth combat deployment.

The closing arguments came a day after Bales apologized for the attack.

"I'm truly, truly sorry to those people whose families got taken away," he said in a mostly steady voice during questions from one of his lawyers. "I can't comprehend their loss. I think about it every time I look at my kids."

He said he hoped his words would be translated for the nine villagers who traveled from Afghanistan to testify against him — none of whom elected to be in court to hear him testify.

Comments
From Mar-a-Lago, Trump says North Korea agreed to denuclearize. It hasnít.

From Mar-a-Lago, Trump says North Korea agreed to denuclearize. It hasnít.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — President Donald Trump on Sunday claimed North Korea has agreed to "denuclearization" before his potential meeting with Kim Jong Un. But that's not the case.North Korea said Friday it would suspend nuclear tests and...
Updated: 1 hour ago
4 dead in Nashville Waffle House shooting; suspect sought

4 dead in Nashville Waffle House shooting; suspect sought

NASHVILLE, Tenn. —†A gunman wearing nothing but a green jacket and brandishing an assault rifle stormed a Waffle House restaurant in Nashville and shot four people to death before dawn Sunday, according to police, who credited a customer with s...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Andrei Vasilevskiy and the universal language of playoff hockey

Andrei Vasilevskiy and the universal language of playoff hockey

TAMPA — As usual, Andrei Vasilevskiy didn't speak in front of the cameras after the game. He has been like that since he hit the NHL. He still isn't comfortable with his English on TV.But Vasilevskiy spoke loudly and clearly in the first-round ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

The Latest: IndyCar race quickly back under red flag

The Indy Grand Prix of Alabama resumed only briefly after a 37-minute delay because of track conditions
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Latest: Names of 3 Nashville shooting victims released

The Latest: Names of 3 Nashville shooting victims released

Police have released the names of four people who died after being shot at a Nashville Waffle House.
Updated: 1 hour ago
Mets-Braves washout is 26th postponement of season

Mets-Braves washout is 26th postponement of season

Major League Baseball had its 26th postponement of the season when the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves were washed out, the most related to weather through April since the commissioner's officer started keeping records in 1986
Updated: 1 hour ago
Report: Autopsies show nothing suspicious in Avicii's death

Report: Autopsies show nothing suspicious in Avicii's death

Sweden's public broadcaster says police in Oman have conducted two autopsies on the body of Grammy-nominated electronic dance DJ Avicii, who died Friday at age 28
Updated: 1 hour ago

Ohtani throws bullpen before batting cleanup for 1st time

Japanese two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani threw a bullpen session Sunday about 90 minutes before he was to bat cleanup for the first time for the Los Angeles Angels
Updated: 1 hour ago
Moustakas, Almonte slug Royals past Tigers 8-5

Moustakas, Almonte slug Royals past Tigers 8-5

Mike Moustakas hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the seventh inning, and the Kansas City Royals outlasted the Detroit Tigers 8-5 to earn a split of their four-game series
Updated: 2 hours ago
Why French globalist Macron is befriending nationalist Trump

Why French globalist Macron is befriending nationalist Trump

Emmanuel Macron's tough-love friendship with Donald Trump will be on display during state visit to Washington
Updated: 2 hours ago