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Afghan Victims Testify in Bales Sentencing Hearing

DVIDS, Spc. Ryan Hallock, File/AP Photo

An Afghan father broke down in a courtroom at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and tried to leave the witness stand.

The emotional outburst Tuesday came during the sentencing hearing for Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who pleaded guilty to murdering 16 Afghan villagers in March of last year.

The bearded father in traditional Afghan dress showed the court where Bales shot him in the neck and jaw the night Bales left his rural Army post and went on a killing spree in two different villages.

Asked how the attack on his family made him feel, the father was overcome with emotion and abruptly ended his testimony.

He is one of several victims and family members flown from Afghanistan to JBLM to testify against Bales at his sentencing. The prosecution witnesses include young children.

Prosecutors also played a recorded phone call between Bales and his wife during which they both laugh about the fact the Army had dropped one of the premeditated murder charges.

The sentencing hearing is expected to last several days and the defense will have a chance to call its own witnesses. In the end, the jury of six military personnel will decide whether to sentence Bales to life in prison with or without the possibility of parole. 

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.