Legal paths in Afghan massacre case
Will suspect face the death penalty?
- Duration 5:05
- Date Mar 20, 2012
Will suspect face the death penalty?
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-- is accused of murdering sixteen Afghan villagers -- of them children.
But he faces a court martial and punishment that could include the death penalty.
-- is 38 years old from Washington State he and his wife had a house in two young children.
When -- identity was released Friday night his neighbors could not believe he could be to blame.
-- I just feel so -- for him and his family because I feel there he's just a victim of a terrible terrible war and you know some.
Usually when something happens like that it is related to PT SD.
Also this week the Bell's family hired a civilian defense attorney John Henry brown.
Told reporters that staff sergeant -- sustained two injuries during three deployments to Iraq.
Afghanistan was his fourth tour of combat running an -- judge Janine pero host of the justice -- -- You won't let me.
Good point he could be defended by the by the -- -- but he's hired a private attorney.
What does this mean in the context of his legal position but he's going to be court.
I think it's very important that that his family did hire a defense attorney although he is and can be represented in the military court.
-- -- -- there is no question that this -- this case has.
And that the administration is gonna go full throttle and it's very important right now.
For him to have the best offense again possibly get.
Given the fact that this I believe will be a death penalty -- sure as I'm sitting here sixteen civilians children some of them burnt.
This will be a death penalty can we have -- And executed the soldier since 1961.
Now this is a horrible crime horrible I mean there's no way to even I think described at the heinous nature of it.
But on the other hand this is -- -- has had four combat tours will that be a defense that will help him avoid a death penalty.
Well certainly the defense will bring up posttraumatic stress disorder is indicated in that package.
But the issue was whether or not PT SD rises to the level of insanity.
Will that be -- not to say this man suffered from a mental disease or -- that was such that he couldn't understand the nature and consequences of what he was doing and that it was wrong.
And by the -- governor you are right on -- in the in the last 25 years the military is sought death in fifty cases.
But right now the fifteen that were sentenced to the death penalty only -- -- on death row because the commanding general as to give his imprimatur and the appellate courts can reverse.
So this is a long way from over but but -- didn't get to the heart of maybe what's going to be the controversy.
Is he going to have -- more.
Let's say harsh trial and punishment.
For the political reasons.
To somehow -- what is a red hot situation in Afghanistan.
Would he be under the same level of intense prosecution.
If this had happened in -- say Germany.
There's no question that it is the circumstances surrounding this killing and the fact that we -- in Afghanistan.
And that all eyes are going to be on this war the longest war in America's history.
And the administration has got to show that this is a guy who is either evil or broken and the defense is gonna say.
This is about the war this is about what the war does to our young men and women they suffer from post traumatic stress disorder covered this was a guy with highly decorated.
He enlisted after 9/11 to protect and save his country.
He was injured -- a brain injury traumatic brain injury he lost part of his foot NA in another injury while -- war.
He had three combat tours they told -- no -- combat no way.
The night before they send to Afghanistan.
I mean this is a guy who has been through hell and we all know war is hell and this case is going to be very symbolic.
Because the Afghans did not want this guy taken out of the country.
They want quick and certain justice the Americans brought him out to Kuwait they went crazy and now -- at Fort Leavenworth.
So the administration is going full bore on this thing and and this guy is really can be under the -- the question is will PT SD and what happened to him.
Be an offer that jury of twelve to say he is insane and therefore not guilty.
I know you're judge not a prophet but if you could look into the future tell me what you -- Will this guy end up getting the death penalty do you think it will end up being carried out or will the defense be able to successfully at least keep him from a death penalty.
I think that what what what happens will depend upon the time.
This in in our justice system in the military justice system things can -- years.
You know the focus will be taken off of this case and if that's the case there's lesser chance of death.
-- and more a chance that he'll get -- not responsible not guilty by reason of insanity.
But the quicker this thing moves and if the administration wants to move -- to show.
To the rest of the world that were going to be tough on these guys who kill Afghan civilians then it's not going to be good for him.
Well we're gonna keep following the case and probably -- you judge thank you very much for being witness.