Thursday was my second day sketching at the sentencing hearing of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales.
One of the most anticipated moments of the week happened during Bales’ unsworn testimony. As expected, he apologized for killing 16 Afghan men, women and children in Afghanistan last year. Defense attorney Emma Scanlan asked Bales: “Who’s responsible for what happened?” Then Bales replied: “I am. I am responsible,” and then continued expressing deep regret for his actions. “I’m sorry. I’m truly, truly sorry.”
Earlier the defense team called Marc Edwards to testify. Edwards is a former professional football player and knew Bales from high school.
SFC Timothy Farris served with Bales in Afghanistan. He described situations where Bales and other fellow soldiers wore themselves out helping wounded civilians.
CSM (Retired) Alan Bjerke said he remembered Bales as always upbeat and with a smile on his face.
A serious trial is not without a lighthearted moment, I guess. Judge Col. Jeffery Nance got impatient when the witness on the stand, Major Brent Clemmer, didn’t have a laser pointer for his presentation. A member of the prosecution team said he could use his, but not before informing the judge that it was his “personal pointer.”
After nearly five hours, the sentencing wrapped up for the day. Though I spent most of the time concentrating on the witnesses, the judge and the defense team, the moment that stood out the most for me happened during a break after Bales’ testimony. Members of his family cried on his shoulder as he hugged them one by one. I did the sketch above as he embraced his wife, Kari.