The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

August 23, 2013

Staff Sgt. Bales apologizes for Afghan massacre

(Continued)

Saying he was nervous to address the court, Bales sat at the witness stand and answered questions from one of his defense attorneys, Emma Scanlan, as his wife cried in the front row of the courtroom. Bales himself briefly became emotional, especially choking up as he apologized to his fellow soldiers.

"I love the Army, I've stood next to some really good guys, some real heroes," he said. "I can't say I'm sorry to those guys enough.

"Nothing makes it right," he added. "So many times before I've asked myself. I don't know why. Sorry just isn't good enough. I'm sorry."

His statements were not made under oath, which prevented prosecutors from cross-examining him.

Bales described in detail the trouble he had readjusting to civilian life after his deployments to Iraq. He became angry all the time, he said, and he was mad at himself for that.

"Normal course of life became hard in that, you know, waiting in traffic, terrible," he said. "Certain smells would just drive me nuts. Washing the dishes I'd just be mad about, for no reason."

He began drinking heavily, hiding bottles and sleeping pills from his wife. He fleetingly began to see a counselor, but quit because he didn't think it was working and he didn't want others to find him weak.

His perpetual rage worsened as he deployed to Afghanistan in late 2011, taking steroids while there. He lashed out frequently at junior soldiers, he said, in ways he's now embarrassed about.

Bales said he spent almost the entire day before the murders venting his anger by chopping and sawing a large tree that the soldiers had taken down near the base.

Bales' lawyers tried to paint a sympathetic picture of the soldier to contrast his own admissions and the testimony of angry Afghan villagers about the horror he wrought.

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