March 28th, 2012
05:15 PM ET

Lawyer: Accused soldier does not understand charges against him

In an exclusive interview set to air tonight on CNN's Erin Burnett OutFront, attorney John Henry Browne tells Erin Burnett his client, Robert Bales, does not understand the charges against him involving the shooting deaths of 17 civilians–including children–in Afghanistan:

I don't think so, to be honest with you. I'm– we've told him– he knew what the allegations were before I met with him. He knew in Kuwait as they told him. And– there's something been misreported– which I think it'd be fun to clear up– I mean, good to clear up. And– and that is– when he called his wife, when he called Karilyn from Kuwait, he said, "Something terrible has happened." And that's been reported in the media as some sort of admission– about what may– or may not have happened in the allegations.

The full interview airs at 7 p.m. ET on CNN.

Filed under: Crime • National Security
soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. ma & pa

    @Reaist...we can only hope your comment at 9:45pm was "One Tin Soldier" irony. There is too much 'judge, jury and executioner' quick do stuff going on, without the true facts in alleged stuff. And people do get stressed beyond the breaking point.

    March 28, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Reply
  2. ma & pa

    Noone can begin to sort out and judge this until everyone involved speaks the complete truth they know about this alleged occurrence and all evidence is in. Sometimes there are third party instigators who do a dirty and then sit back and watch as those working towards peace turn on each other, rather than uniting to catch the instigators.

    March 28, 2012 at 11:19 pm | Reply
  3. ma & pa

    Noone can begin to sort out and judge this until everyone involved speaks the complete truth they know about this alleged occurrence. In the politics of wars of all kinds, sometimes there are third party instigators who do a dirty and then sit back and watch as those working towards peace turn on each other, rather than uniting to catch the instigators. Ze Taliebaneei? A fourth partiiee? War of all kind is H?ll. How good it would be if the real World Instigators of it all could get _ _ _ _ _ _ instead of mothers, innocents and children. Let's find the true facts before considering judgment.

    March 28, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Reply
  4. ma & pa

    Noone can begin to sort out and judge this until everyone involved speaks the complete truth they know about this alleged occurrence. In the politics of wars of all kinds, sometimes there are third party instigators who do a dirty and then sit back and watch as those working towards peace turn on each other, rather than uniting to catch the instigators. Ze Taliebaneei? A fourth partiiee? A bunch of pushed-too-far, grievin-their-blown-up-to-pieces-buddies, beyond-control guys, doing a Taliebaneei routine? Not likely, but who'd beieve they didn't? Damage control: They choose the most straight-up soldier, wake him up out of a Mickeyed sleep, and tell him and the world what he supposedly did. Deer in the headlights look on his face? Yeah. He, among them all, has the best chance of what? Just in time for Easter. Another sacrifice. War of all kind is H?ll. How good it would be if the real World Instigators of it all could get _ _ _ _ _ _ instead of mothers, innocents and children. Let's find the true facts before considering judgment.

    March 28, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Reply
  5. PTSDsufferer

    I suffer from PTSD and no way in hell can it make me shoot innocent children. EVER. No sympathy for this murderer, the locals need to handle this. If a foreign soldier murdered our people we would never turn him over to his own country for prosecution....(guantanamo anyone?) And no soldier is fighting a war for me. WAr is WRONG. To teach a human it's ok to kill other humans make them animals without conscience. There is no room for war in a so-called Christian country. OH and BTW. Jesus is a liberal

    March 28, 2012 at 10:59 pm | Reply
    • OneBuc_MP

      Congradulations – so your one those "types" of Soldiers! Glad your no longer with us.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:44 am | Reply
  6. Felicia

    Why does he have a civilian attorney? Why doesn't he have a military attorney?

    March 28, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Reply
  7. MBinbflo

    I'm not typically someone who supports conspiracy theories however based on recent information coming out about how the military experimented on soldiers with hallucinogenics and other drugs, as well as stories of cover-ups, one has to wonder just what our military leaders are doing anymore. Something is not right about this story. And, something is wrong when the military continues to deploy soldiers who have are suffering from PTSD and who have experienced traumatic brain and other injuries. Keep in mind, this is the same military that poisoned our soldiers in Vietnam with agent orange and continues to deny culpability for health problems resulting from that exposure; the same military that continues to fail our returning soldiers today. And this soldier is in the cross-fire. God Bless him and his family.

    March 28, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Reply
  8. db

    NOBODY that has not been in combat, has had their life threatened 24 hours a day, has not served 3 years in a combat zone, has not been wounded, or had their brains rattled, and is suffering from PSID has any right to make any comments on this case what so ever. IT IS YOU, the lamebrain liberals who have created this world by trying to buy off our friends and ememies only to create more hate for Americans. YOU should be trying to support those that serve and suffer the tragic events that this man went through and not send him back to a 4 year of terror.
    Our POTUS promised we would be out of both IRAQ and Afganistan and bring our troops back home but that is only another of his promises he has not kept. Washington has created this problem, we only see the results of broken men in both mind and body. So start being and American and stop the bleeding hearts for those that died, they are trying to kill us until we leave them alone. He is not the Commander in Chief, Obama is and you can blame him.

    March 28, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Reply
    • noc

      I don't think I fit your criteria to make a comment. But there's no way he's not getting jail time. He could have been there 20 years, you don't just go killing people. Can you even imagine the precedent it would set if he wen't unpunished?

      March 28, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Reply
    • blessedgeek

      When Obama and Ron Paul opposed the war in Iraq, you people said that was unpatriotic. Now you say, bring the troops home. Make up your mind.

      When GWB said "mission accomplished", where were you – did you even dare to stand up against him as Obama and Ron Paul had? Where were you.

      We pay the taxes. We will say what needs to be said.

      March 28, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Reply
    • cool neutral

      Obama didn't start this war soldier. Shut your mouth and toe the line.

      March 28, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Reply
    • JB

      While I completely agree with you on the fact that it would be impossible to understand the stress and trauma of being in combat, I have to disagree with you on the fact that "lamebrain liberals" are to blame. America is hated by other countries because we are perceived as being bullies due to the fact that diplomacy has been a last resort thanks to politicians like Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld. Obama has made huge gains in returning our troops compared to the goons that came before him. Either way, this isn't (or shouldn't) be about Democrats or Republicans- this is a sad story of a man who served our country and had a complete breakdown.

      March 28, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Reply
    • john in Miami

      As a father of a soldier who's been to Iraq in 2 touts, I unertstand the anguish that famly members feel and can appreciate the emotional wreck that our soldiers feel when being injured or watching their fellow soldiers die or be maimed. But lets not forget that it was Bush who decided to follow this course for concocted ideal and I will forever blame HIM for putting my boy's life in jeopardy.

      March 28, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Reply
  9. Malavaina

    What's the real truth about this?

    March 28, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Reply
  10. Sam

    What does he mean he doesn't understand the charges against him? Did he forget how to understand English?

    March 28, 2012 at 10:03 pm | Reply
  11. tomicT

    4 deployments. That's absurd! Thought things were bad when my dad did 2 in Viet Nam. C'mon...4 deployments? Of course, there is no justification for what transpired...but what is at the roots? Yo, congress! You may not know this, but human beings DO have limits....push them to their limits and look what happens!

    March 28, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Reply
  12. Realist

    Turn him over to the locals for punishment, then he'll understand.

    March 28, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Reply
    • db

      What kind of a lame brain are you anyway. I hope some enemy comes and creats a problem for you and no one is around to help becasue you turned on them. A true American you turned to be. Make me sad that I served only to let you act like a lame brain.

      March 28, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Reply
    • Jack

      As if their justice makes sense.

      March 28, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Reply
    • OneBucMP

      Realist – My vote is for you to be the one to take SSG Bales to the locals! They would welcome you with open arms since you appear to share their same view point. Like the price of gas, the cost of providing people like you a platform to speak from keeps giong up... Sleep is a rare commodity, I think I will take this time to get some!

      March 28, 2012 at 10:55 pm | Reply
  13. MRW

    Don't like being deployed over and over again? Don't join the military. It's that simple. Anyone who has joined within the last ten years without the expectation of seeing numerous consecutive deployments is living in a fantasy. Furthermore, if these same individuals joining the military haven't taken a lesson from the quagmire that was Vietnam, their own ignorance is to blame. It's the military, not a vacation.

    March 28, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Reply
  14. jean

    It would seem that one deployment should be more than enough to expect of anyone.

    March 28, 2012 at 9:46 pm | Reply
  15. 266337

    Yeah, it certainly is a shame. Not trying to justify what Bales allegedly did – if he did, he should be charged and prosecuted – but the worst and most frustrating thing about it is that no one will be punished for creating the situation in the first place. I don't doubt his wife at all when she says he would never do something like this. But he (or someone) did it, for some reason. Something drove him (or someone else) to committing such an atrocity. But the truth is, this incident is a tiny drop in the bucket, just another item on the long list of atrocities committed by America. For national security? The war on terror/drugs/facism/imperialism? To stop Evil? All unforgivable lies. The US needs to end its military economy, bring the troops home, destroy all nuclear weapons, dismantle the empire and start to become the great nation most Americans think it already is.

    March 28, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Reply


    March 28, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Reply
  17. pickle

    seriously really, CNN what was so bad you couldnt post my comment? nothing offensive...no profanity! just my opinion.

    "he may not know what happened when he massacred 17 human beings INCLUDING BABIES.... but i hope they fill his veins slowly to give him the entire experience that he prevented his victims to have ..."

    March 28, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Reply
  18. Rose

    That's so true, John K and now the President says he's going to make our military smaller, which means more deployments for each soldier. It's not like we're never going to go to war again, these poor guys are burnt out and have died by the thousands.

    March 28, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Reply
    • MC

      Shove a sock in it, half-wit. It was Bush who decided to start a needless second war in Iraq when he hadn't even finished the first one yet. We won't see another president that dumb for quite some time.

      March 28, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Reply
    • jimbo

      Volunteers all. No one forced them to enlist. They can get out anytime after their initial obligatory time is up.

      March 28, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Reply
    • xGen

      Rose, I think your concern is misplaced. We have a volunteer army, so we're not going to have a decrease in the number of soldiers. That's entirely based on the number of people who have applied and been accepted into our military. As for how many we put in the battlefield at a time, this is largely up to the recommendations of those commanding the operation. Not to mention that these prolonged wars aren't limited by our ability to throw countless numbers of bodies into a battlefield, but also by the financial cost. We literally cannot afford to have indefinite wars on any number of countries we choose, nor should we do so even if we did have the money.

      Throwing money at our military doesn't necessarily make it better and our country safer, and if you think it's all being spent as efficiently as possible, you're sorely mistaken. This illogical fear that's being spread by the Republican party, that reassessing the way money flows into our defense budget is going to weaken this country, is just political fear mongering during an election year. Just like we don't need enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world, we don't need to dump money into our military without monitoring how efficiently it's being used.

      This idea that "if Obama did it, it's bad" is just as ignorant as all the extreme liberals whining about everything G.W. Bush did, even if it was something they'd normally agree with or not care about. Stop letting political BS dictate your opinion.

      March 28, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Reply
  19. moi

    cnn u r stupid to even post those few sentences

    March 28, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Reply
  20. George


    March 28, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Reply
  21. Bill

    Heroes don't gun down women and children in their sleep, only sick spineless pieces of trash do that. Execute him as he is a cold blooded killer and a disgrace to all the noble men and women who have served in the military.

    March 28, 2012 at 8:46 pm | Reply
  22. Big Bubba

    Doesnt understand the charges? How convenient. this dirty lawyer is trying his best to make this guy look like the worst case of PTSD so he has a chance in court and to draw public sympathy. BS. He knew what he was doing and even if he didnt, I don't care. Bury the POS up to his neck in the desert and leave him there to rot.

    March 28, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Reply
  23. John K

    It would be nice to read and hear the entire story leading up to and to its happening of Sgt. Bales as well as his situation as being deployed for the fourth time. You keep re-deploying these troops and one of two things happen, one they get shot, blown up or come home not all there. It is a case of playing Russian roulett, eventually the bullet come up into the chamber. Our soilders are being played a expendable pawns, don't get it! Read the rules Washington puts to as our rules of engagement wiht the enemy, its a JOKE!

    March 28, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Reply
    • OneBucMP

      I would hit the like button if there was one!

      March 28, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Reply
    • james

      He could have gotten out after his initial time was up. Instead he volunteered to re-up. Also, he was wanted by the police.

      March 28, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Reply
  24. modman

    yeah, right.

    March 28, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Reply
  25. pickle

    he may not know what happened when he massacred 17 human beings INCLUDING BABIES.... but i hope they fill his veins slowly to give him the entire experience that he prevented his victims to have ...

    March 28, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Reply
  26. 88

    Those men are all heroes what he did sounds like a real fun Friday evening out to me those people cant be trusted they are killing are soldiers everyday,they just got a taste of their own medicine.

    March 28, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Reply
  27. toofunny

    Gonna pull the old Reagan defense....I don't remember, I don't recall, I don't understand....if this is the best the defense lawyer can do to lay the groundwork of sympathy, he is being overpaid.

    March 28, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Reply
  28. jackson

    From whats come out about bales, its clear there is a lot he doesn't understand, and it ain't a new phenomenon.
    Would it be too much to ask CNN to inquire who was in command of A SECURITY POST WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE OF TWO MASSACRE SITES AND DID NOTHING WHILE THEY WERE OCCURRING? THAT 'COMMANDER' IS NEGLIGENT AT THE VERY LEAST (so are 'journalists' who don't live up to there obligations).

    March 28, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Reply
  29. L

    I just saw the video of Zimmerman and it did not look like he had any blood on his clothes. It doesn't look like the arresting officers had gloves on when they were patting him down or when he was brought out of the car. That is very strange!

    March 28, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Reply
  30. true

    For f* sakes. this man killed 17 innocent civilians, and tortured them before they could even be killed. This lawyer has the nerve to say this man doesnt know what hes done. Hang the ass and save the tax payers money.

    March 28, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Reply
  31. me

    typical soldier

    March 28, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Reply
  32. red

    all people knows the shooter were soldiers, it isn't one. and they arent heroes, they are like prison convicted

    March 28, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Reply
    • butch

      that's very enlightening

      March 28, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Reply
    • Michael

      Don't you dare. Soldiers are men and women who put their lives on the line everyday. They are put in an impossible situation, doing an impossible job, making impossible decisions. Don't you dare call them prison convicts. We believe in innocent until proven guilty in the United States. That means Bales gets every benefit of the doubt until he is proved guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt.

      March 28, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Reply
    • Lee

      All people know that there was more than one? I see no reason at this time to believe there was more than one and I'll wait for evidence that there was before shooting from the hip and making absurd statements like you have.

      March 28, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Reply
    • Emtaba

      My grandfather, father & husband served this country in the Army. My son served in the Marines. If you, or someone you love, have not served your country, by my standards you have no right to make any judgement call. Just remember that the only reason you are allowed to make your statement is because of our service men and women who fought and died to give you that freedom!

      March 28, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Reply
    • Matt

      Maybe you need to go back to school and learn how to write in proper English!

      March 28, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Reply
    • Chuck in Jasper Ga.

      Have you ever considered getting an education?

      March 28, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Reply
    • Burlapsak

      Not sure I understand what your saying Red

      March 28, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Reply
    • OneBucMP

      Much like the other "major case" coming out of Florida, I wish the media would back off and allow due process to take place. This is a huge part of our problem. People are far too quick to judge!!!! If you have not been to war, or to war several times, you really don't have anything to base your opinion on!!! All I'm trying to say is, go easy Red. You are probably sitting comfortably in your home right now, passing judgement onto others... that's cool! You have that right because other people sacrifice their sanity/life for your personal pleasure of FREE SPEECH! Thanks for at least excersing that right, my brothers and sisters must be doing something right since the 1700's!

      March 28, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Reply
    • fantod

      Have you read what you wrote, Red? Do you realize that it's incoherent jibberish?

      March 28, 2012 at 10:15 pm | Reply
    • Jack

      You keep telling yourself that. If you are referring to soldiers in general as being "prison convicted" then you're a fool.

      March 28, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Reply
  33. Ben

    The armed forces don't exactly attract geniuses, or even those who know right from wrong.

    March 28, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Reply
  34. Nadir

    I guess after anyone kills 16 people, he claims memory loss and doesn't understand. He is a sorry piece of human excrement that should be punished according to Geneva Accords, not US Military Law. I am disgusted by his lawyer saying and playing the media. Too bad we have "innocent until proven guilty", he is guilty and even his damaged brain knows that.

    March 28, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Reply
  35. Jack

    She should ask John Henry when he will pass the majic rock back and forth with his client as he does in all his cases.

    March 28, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Reply
  36. hr_demon

    is this heading to a not guilty by reason of temporary insanity plea??

    March 28, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Reply

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.