EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

World/National News

August 21, 2013

Afghan massacre victim takes stand, curses gunman

(Continued)

“The accused placed his weapon on ‘burst’ and murdered everyone in the room,” Morse said.

Offering the most detailed single account yet of the attack, Morse recounted the killings compound-by-compound and room-by-room, describing at one point how a widow was left clutching bits of her husband’s skull when the killer finally left. Bales looked away as prosecutors displayed pictures of some of his bloodied victims.

Bales, a 39-year-old Ohio native and father of two from Lake Tapps, Wash., was serving his fourth combat deployment when he left the outpost at Camp Belambay in the pre-dawn darkness. He first attacked one village, returning to Belambay only when he realized he was low on ammunition, Morse said.

He then woke a fellow soldier, described his actions and said he was headed out to kill more. The other soldier didn’t believe him and went back to sleep. Bales left again.

The massacre prompted such angry protests that the U.S. temporarily halted combat operations in Afghanistan, and it was three weeks before Army investigators could reach the crime scene.

At the time, Bales had been under heavy personal, professional and financial stress, Morse said. He had complained to other soldiers that his wife was fat and unattractive and said he’d divorce her except that her father had money. He had stopped paying the mortgage on one of his houses because it was assessed at $60,000 less than he paid for it, and he was upset that he had not been promoted.

“The accused felt inadequate as a soldier and as a man because of his personal, financial and professional problems,” Morse said.

Furthermore, Bales had expressed a desire for revenge when a fellow soldier had stepped on a roadside bomb and lost his leg below the knee a week earlier — though Bales did not personally witness the event or see the soldier afterward, Morse said.

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