JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. — A military prosecutor on Tuesday said the evidence against Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, presented over the last week here in a pretrial inquiry into the killings of 16 Afghan civilians, was so damning that the case should go forward as a capital crime.
“Terrible, terrible things happened — that is clear," said the prosecutor, Maj. Rob Stelle. “The second thing that is clear," he added, “is that Sgt. Bales did it."
But a lawyer for Bales, Emma Scanlan, making the defense team’s final argument, said the lingering questions about the crime, and especially the defendant’s mental and physical state, were far too great to proceed with anything but caution.
The Army has charged that Bales, 39, who was serving his fourth combat tour, walked away from his remote outpost in southern Afghanistan and shot and stabbed members of several families in a nighttime ambush in the villages. At least nine of the people he is accused of killing were children.