The U.S. Army charged Staff Sergeant Robert Bales with steroid and alcohol abuse as the service filed additional charges against the alleged killer of Afghan civilians.
The new charges include two counts of “wrongfully possessing and using” steroids and one of “wrongfully consuming alcohol while deployed,” according to a statement yesterday by the Army. The amended charges also reduced the number of alleged murder victims to 16 from 17.
|Staff Sergeant Robert Bales
Bales is being held in the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., awaiting trial for the March shootings that roiled U.S.-Afghan relations. An attorney for the solider indicated his defense may turn in part on whether he used steroids, and who may have supplied them.
“We are interested to learn about the alleged steroid use — in particular the dosage and alleged frequency of use,” Emma Scanlan, a Seattle-based attorney, said in an e-mail after the Army’s announcement. “Witnesses have indicated that my client got steroids from the special forces team he was stationed with.”
“It will be interesting to see what kind of pressure was placed on conventional forces placed with elite special forces teams,” she said.
Bales, a married father of two based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, served three tours in Iraq before his Dec. 3 deployment to Afghanistan.
He has been accused of gunning down Afghan civilians in two villages in southern Afghanistan before turning himself in.
If Bales’ mental condition is in question, the military will form a “sanity board” to conduct a mental evaluation and determine whether he’s fit to stand trial.
Bales suffered a head injury in Iraq from a vehicle rollover accident, though he was later deemed fit for deployment.
The charges against him now include 16 counts of premeditated murder, six counts of attempted premeditated murder, seven counts of assault, two counts of wrongfully possessing and using steroids, and one count of wrongfully consuming alcohol while deployed, according to the Army statement.
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