Afghan Massacre Suspect Had Brain Injury: Lawyer

Lawyers ready 'mental health defense' for Robert Bales
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 18, 2013 2:18 AM CST
Afghan Massacre Suspect Had PTSD: Lawyer
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales participates in an exercise at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.   (AP Photo/DVIDS, Spc. Ryan Hallock, File)

Before allegedly launching a shooting spree against Afghan villagers, US Staff Sgt. Robert Bales was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, his lawyer said at a hearing yesterday. Bales' defense team said it was readying a "mental health defense" in the massacre case; lawyer John Henry Browne says he has government documents confirming the diagnosis, which came before the deployment in question.

The military judge called for a "sanity board" of doctors to review Bales' health. The defense hasn't yet entered a plea, thereby keeping options open for new motions. Browne, a civilian, said it would take at least a year and a half for him to formulate his case. A fair trial, he told reporters, is unlikely unless "we slow this thing down," Reuters reports. He also noted that two potential witnesses for the prosecution had been killed by US-led troops after it emerged that they were insurgents. Bales faces 16 murder charges, among other charges. (More Afghanistan stories.)

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