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Staff Sgt. Bales apologizes for Afghan massacre

A police officer walks in front of the heavily fortified Lawrence H. Williams Judicial Center as the court martial of Army Maj. Nidal Hasan continued Thursday in Fort Hood, Texas.

Associated Press

A police officer walks in front of the heavily fortified Lawrence H. Williams Judicial Center as the court martial of Army Maj. Nidal Hasan continued Thursday in Fort Hood, Texas.

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. — The U.S. soldier who massacred 16 Afghan civilians during pre-dawn raids last year apologized for the first time Thursday for his "act of cowardice," but could not explain the atrocities to a military jury considering whether he should one day have a shot at freedom.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales said he would bring back the victims of his March 11, 2012, attack "in a heartbeat," if possible.

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

Bales, a 40-year-old father of two from Lake Tapps, Wash., was serving his fourth combat deployment when he left his outpost at Camp Belambay, in Kandahar Province, in the middle of the night to attack the villages.

He pleaded guilty in June, and the six-member jury is deciding whether his life sentence should include the chance of parole.

His attorneys previously made much of Bales' repeated deployments and suggested that post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury may have played a role in the killings. But they offered no testimony from medical experts on that point.

Instead, they rested their defense after Bales finished speaking Thursday. Closing arguments were scheduled this morning.

FORT HOOD, Texas

Fort Hood shooter declines to address jury

The Army psychiatrist on trial for the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood passed on his final chance to address jurors before they started deliberating Thursday, even after prosecutors insisted they hand down a verdict that would allow the death penalty.

Maj. Nidal Hasan is accused of killing 13 people and wounding 30 others. He is acting as his own attorney.

Jurors deliberated about three hours before asking the judge if they could review testimony from the Fort Hood police officer who shot the gunman and ended the rampage. The judge agreed, then dismissed jurors for the night. Deliberations are to resume this morning.

Associated Press

Staff Sgt. Bales apologizes for Afghan massacre 08/22/13 [Last modified: Thursday, August 22, 2013 10:42pm]
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