JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (AP) — A military jury on Friday sentenced a U.S. soldier who massacred 16 Afghan civilians last year to life in prison without a chance of parole.
The decision came in the case of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, 40, who pleaded guilty in June in a deal to avoid the death penalty.
Bales did not recount specifics of the horrors in court when he testified Thursday or offer an explanation for the violence, but he described the killings as an "act of cowardice, behind a mask of fear, bulls--- and bravado."
"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."
Bales 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 from him.
His statements were not made under oath, which prevented prosecutors from cross-examining him.
Bales, a 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 two villages.
The nine Afghans — some angry and at least one cursing Bales — testified over two days about their lives since the attacks. Haji Mohammad Wazir said he lost 11 relatives, including his mother, wife and six of his seven children.
"If someone loses one child, you can imagine how devastated their life would be," Wazir said. "If anybody speaks to me about the incident ... I feel the same, like it's happening right now."
Attorneys for Bales 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 psychiatrists or other doctors, saying they saw little point in making the case a battle of the experts.
Instead, they had Bales and some of his fellow soldiers testify about the difficulties they endured and the images that stuck with them after earlier tours in Iraq. They rested their defense after Bales finished speaking.
In his closing argument, the prosecutor, Lt. Col. Jay Morse, displayed photos of a young girl who was executed as she screamed and cried, as well as surveillance video of Bales returning to the base with what Morse called "the methodical, confident gait of a man who's accomplished his mission."
While questioning other witnesses, prosecutors noted Bales' checkered past, including a fraud investigation and eventual $1.5 million judgment, a drunken-driving arrest in 2005, a driving under the influence crash in 2008, and lies on re-enlistment documents about his criminal history.
Bales' lawyers did their best to paint a sympathetic picture of a patriotic man who was an ideal father and had been his senior class president and quarterback of the high school football team in Norwood, Ohio.
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GREENWICH, Conn. (AP) — A multi-vehicle crash has closed part of Interstate 95 in southwestern Connecticut as road conditions turned slippery with the arrival of a wintry storm.
Lawmakers in Connecticut and New York are calling on the Federal Railroad Administration to take immediate action to try and prevent another deadly train crash like the one that happened last weekend in New York City.
Members of the Machinists union who work at jet-engine maker Pratt & Whitney have approved a new three-year contract.
Manchester police are investigating what lead one man to allegedly kill three women and then take his own life.
The University of Connecticut has awarded the first two scholarships under a program launched to help those affected by last year's massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
A student accused of setting off a lockdown and massive police response at Central Connecticut State University by wearing a ninja-like costume on campus is set to face a judge for the first time.
Newtown police officers rescued two people from a house fire, early Sunday.
Enfield resident Harold Slater was just 20-years-old the day he witnessed the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Two men were arrested after breaking into a home then driving at officers during a pursuit in Waterbury on Saturday night.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut's governor is calling for houses of worship to mark the first anniversary of the Newtown school shooting by ringing their bells 26 times — once for each of the victims killed inside Sandy Hook Elementary …