Bales faces 17 counts of murder in Afghan killings

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Bales was on his fourth tour of duty in a war zone, having served three tours in Iraq, where he suffered a head injury and a foot injury. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, of the 2nd Infantry Division, which is based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Browne has portrayed his client as a patriot, loving father and devoted husband who had been traumatized by a comrade’s injury and sent into combat one too many times.

But there have been conflicting reports about what exactly Bales saw relating to the comrade’s injury. A U.S. defense official said that while it is likely that a soldier from Bales‘ unit, based in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan, suffered a leg wound a day or two before the March 11 shootings, there is no evidence that Bales witnessed it or the aftermath, or that it played any role in his alleged actions.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an internal review.

Afghan officials have asked the United States for some role in the criminal proceedings, perhaps as observers, and to be kept up to date on the case. The government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai has not demanded that Bales be turned over to the Afghan justice system, although some in the country’s parliament did. The Afghans have also urged a fast resolution of the case.

Army officials have said Bales was cleared for return to duty after the head injury he suffered in Iraq.

Bales joined the Army in 2001 after a Florida investment business failed and after he had worked with a string of securities operations. Bales and a broker at one company were hit in 2003 with a $1.5 million arbitration ruling after an elderly couple charged that their holdings were decimated.

He also was arrested in 2002 for the drunken assault of a casino security guard and had to complete an anger management class. There also are reports of a second incident involving alcohol, although Bales was never formally charged.

A sheriff’s department report released Thursday says Robert Bales was accused in 2008 in Washington state of shaking hands with a woman, pulling her hand into his crotch and then punching and kicking her boyfriend. It described Bales as “extremely intoxicated.”

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Associated Press writers Robert Burns in Washington and Mike Baker and Manuel Valdes in Olympia, Wash., contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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