SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

March 20, 2012

Lawyer says Afghan killings suspect recalls little

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. — Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales remembers little about the night he is accused of slaughtering 16 Afghan civilians in a nighttime shooting rampage, his lawyer says.

He has a sketchy memory of events from before and after the killings but recalls very little or nothing of the time the military believes he went on a shooting spree through two Afghan villages, attorney John Henry Browne said Monday after meeting his client for the first time.

Browne and other members of Bales' defense team have said they plan additional meetings this week with the soldier, who is being held at Fort Leavenworth.

Meanwhile, more details have come to light about Bales' troubles on the home front.

Records show he owes $1.5 million from an arbitration ruling nearly a decade ago that found him guilty of securities fraud.

The ruling stemmed from a complaint by a Columbus, Ohio, man that Bales defrauded him and his wife while working as their stockbroker in 2003.

Bales, 38, has not been charged yet in the March 11 shooting spree, though charges could come this week. The killings sparked protests in Afghanistan, endangered relations between the two countries and threatened to upend American policy over the decade-old war.

Browne met with his client behind bars for the first time Monday to begin building a defense. He said Bales has "some memory of some things that happened" the night of the shootings.

"He has some memories of before the incident and he has some memories of after the incident. In between, very little," Browne told The Associated Press by telephone from Fort Leavenworth, where Bales is being held.

Pressed on whether Bales can remember anything about the shooting, Browne said, "No," but added: "I haven't gotten that far with him yet."

In an earlier interview with CBS, Browne said unequivocally that Bales can't remember the shootings.

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