Former Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who killed 16 Afghan civilians in 2012, plans to ask President Donald Trump for a sentence commutation should he run out of legal appeals options, including the U.S. Supreme Court, said Bales’ lawyer John Maher.
Bales shot men, women and children during his first tour in Afghanistan on March 11, 2012. He was sentenced to life without parole on June 5, 2013, but claims important evidence was withheld in his first trial. The Supreme Court will consider Bales’ petition at a conference on Thursday, reported McClatchy’s Washington, D.C., bureau.
His lawyers paint him as someone who snapped and committed out-of-character actions, possibly because of medicine he was ordered to take, according to McClatchy. Prosecutors depict Bales as someone who knew what he was doing and shot civilians in two separate villages. (RELATED: Afghanistan Road Still Incomplete After 12 Years, $249 Million Spent)
“The idea is not so much we want to exonerate Bob Bales,” Maher told McClatchy D.C. “But he’s an American soldier who walked into combat four times … Understandably, there’s going to a breaking point for even the strongest people around, and he deserves every protection the Constitution provides.”
Bales’ petition to the Supreme Court claims that prosecution did not disclose that Bales may have been ordered to take an anti-malaria drug that rarely causes psychosis-inducing side effects, or that relatives of Bales’ victims who were witnesses at his trial may have been associated with the Taliban.
If the highest court in the land says no to hearing his case, Bales will petition the U.S. District Court in Kansas before finally turning to Trump for clemency so that Bales can “one day be returned to his wife and children,” Maher said.
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