SEATTLE – The attorney for Staff Sgt. Robert Bales said Friday he wants his client’s murder trial to be held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, citing legal costs.
Bales was charged Friday with 17 counts of premeditated murder in the deaths of Afghan civilians during an alleged shooting rampage two weeks ago.
Attorney John Henry Browne said there may not be any public court hearings for months.
Bales is now being held at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
Browne said JBLM should be the site of a trial because it’s Bales’ home post. Brown also said Bales’ family has limited means and would have a tougher time with the costs if they had to travel abroad for a trial.
Browne, who defended “Barefoot Bandit” Colton Harris-Moore without pay, said another attorney is helping set up a fund to pay the legal costs.
“After doing the Colton Harris Moore case for free, I just don’t have a lot of resources left. The family has paid me some money, but we are going to have to raise money to stay in this,” said Browne.
Bales and Browne met for 11 hours this week. Browne said his client is in shock about what is happening and never spoke about the trouble he’s in.
“He, for the first two hours, spoke about his buddies on the ground and his care for them and his concern for them and his concern that the allegations against him are going to make their job so much harder. He spent a lot of time talking about his family, but he never once talked about his own plight,” said Browne.
Browne said he is curious how the government is going to prove its case.
“There’s no ballistics that we know of,” said Browne. “Most cases there’s a crime scene, there’s ballistics, there’s CSI, there’s confessions where there isn’t in this case.”
Members of the defense team plan to go to Afghanistan to talk to witnesses and investigate the claims against Bales. Browne admits they have concerns for their safety, so he won’t say when they will go.
Browne said he realizes the case has increased the rhetoric over the U.S. involvement in the war.
“We’re not putting the war on trial, but it is on trial. I mean there is an international dialogue now because of these allegations, and I think that is good,” said Browne.
Browne said Bales doesn’t remember what happened the night of the shootings and that he suffered a “serious" concussion that went untreated before the shootings.
Bales was arrested in 2002 for the drunken assault of a casino security guard. He completed anger management class in that case. He also was cited in a 2008 police report in which he allegedly intoxicated and pulled a woman’s hand to his crotch, then punched and kicked her boyfriend. Charges were never filed in that case.
Browne said he does not pay attention to Bales’ past allegations.
“Despite all the junk that you hear about bar fights two years ago which have nothing to do with this case, and financial problems which have nothing to do with this case,” said Browne.