Bales defers plea in Afghan massacre

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Ms. Scanlan called that unrealistic, given how much time the defense team needs to review more than 30,000 pages of discovery materials and find and interview witnesses — not to mention getting their own client to open up. The defense has suggested a May 2014 trial date.

“Without adequate time to develop the relationship of trust required for effective representation in a capital case, counsel may never learn or be able to present the most crucial facts about the accused, facts without which any possible understanding of his actions is impossible,” she wrote.

She noted that Sgt. Bales‘ case was formally referred to a court-martial just last month. For the last five U.S. courts-martial in which the death penalty was a possible punishment, the average elapsed time from date of referral to date of trial was one year and eight months, she wrote. Setting Sgt. Bales‘ trial for this June would be a record pace, she suggested, and would risk harming the quality of his legal defense.

The documents also show that Sgt. Bales‘ lawyers requested the appointment of a neuropsychologist to the defense team after a forensic psychiatrist who had already been appointed, Dr. Thomas Grieger, reported that he didn’t have the expertise to evaluate Sgt. Bales for traumatic brain injury. The Army refused, saying the defense hadn’t shown that such an appointment was necessary.

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