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Afghan Witnesses Testimony Next Step In Bales Hearings

[asset-images[{"caption": "Staff Sergeant Robert Bales. ", "fid": "820", "style": "card_280", "uri": "public://201211/BALES.jpg", "attribution": "Credit Photo courtesy of Maj. Brent Clemmer"}]]Pretrial hearings for Staff Sergeant Robert Bales continue tonight when Afghan villagers and soldiers are expected to testify by video. The hearings are expected to run into the early morning hours US time.

Bales is the  soldier from Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM)  accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians and wounding six more this past March. The hearings at JBLM will determine whether the case will advance to court-martial, where the government has said it plans to seek the death penalty.

Prosecutors say Staff Sergeant Bales in the early morning hours slipped away from his remote post in Kandahar province. They say he first attacked one village, returned to the base, and headed out again to attack another village.

In the courtroom Thursday an Army DNA expert testified about her analysis of clothing, a rifle and other equipment belonging to Bales. She said it was covered in the blood of four people: two women and two men.

Forensic evidence was taken from walls and a pillow case at one victims’ home. She testified that the blood of one woman was found both on Bales and in an Afghan home where the attacks occurred.

A textile expert also testified that fibers taken from a pillow case matched clothing that Bales was wearing when he was taken into custody.

Bales was not in the courtroom.