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Updated Friday, November 9, 2012 at 10:02 PM

Blood of 4 people found on Bales, expert testifies

By Gene Johnson
The Associated Press

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD — A U.S. Army DNA expert testified Thursday that the soldier suspected of killing 16 Afghan civilians during a nighttime rampage last March had the blood of at least four people on his clothes and guns when he surrendered.

The blood of two males and two females was discovered on Staff Sgt. Robert Bales' pants, shirt, gloves, rifle and other items, said Christine Trapolsi, an examiner at the Army's Criminal Investigation Laboratory.

To preserve the evidence, she said she tested only a portion of the bloodstains, and it's possible more DNA profiles could be discovered with additional testing.

Trapolsi testified Thursday at a preliminary hearing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, which will help determine whether the case advances to a court-martial.

Trapolsi also was able to identify DNA profiles from samples of blood stains collected in the mud-walled compounds where prosecutors allege Bales carried out some of the killings. One of these DNA profiles was matched to one of the four DNA profiles — that of a female — identified from the blood found on Bales clothing and equipment, according to her testimony Thursday.

Afghan villagers and soldiers are expected to testify by video from Afghanistan Friday, Saturday and possibly Sunday nights to accommodate the time-zone difference. The witness list for Friday night includes two Afghan National Army guards, two victims and four relatives of victims.

Bales, a 39-year-old father of two from Lake Tapps, Pierce County, could face the death penalty if ultimately convicted of 16 counts of premeditated murder and six counts of attempted murder in the March 11 attack in southern Afghanistan.

Prosecutors say Bales dressed in a T-shirt, cape and night-vision goggles, without any body armor, slipped away from his remote post, Camp Belambay. He attacked one village, returned to the base and headed out again to attack another, they say.

Nine children were among the victims, and 11 of them were from the same family.

Another forensic expert from the Army Criminal Investigation Lab, fiber specialist Larry Peterson, testified Thursday that a small piece of fabric that matched the cape Bales was reportedly wearing was discovered on a pillow in one of the attacked compounds. Prosecutors referred to the cape as a blanket, but Peterson said it was more like a decorative covering for a window or doorway.

Bales has not entered a plea and is not expected to testify. His attorneys, who did not give an opening statement, have not discussed the evidence but say Bales has post-traumatic- stress disorder and suffered a concussive head injury in Iraq during a previous deployment.

A U.S. agent who investigated the massacre testified Wednesday that local villagers were so angered it was weeks before U.S. forces could visit the crime scenes less than a mile from a remote base.

By that time, bodies had been buried and some blood stains had been scraped from the walls, Special Agent Matthew Hoffman of the Army's Criminal Investigation Command testified Wednesday.

Other stains remained, on walls and floors. Investigators also recovered shell casings consistent with the weapons Bales reportedly carried.

He also said Bales tested positive for steroids three days after the killings.

Bales leaned back in his chair at the defense table and betrayed no reaction as an Army doctor, Maj. Travis Hawks, gave clinical descriptions of treating the wounded villagers as they arrived at a nearby operating base.

One young girl had a large bullet wound in the top of her head, he said. She was unresponsive at first but survived after treatment.

A woman had wounds to her chest and genitals, but she and her relatives insisted that the male doctors not treat her. Prosecutors displayed photos of the victims being treated.

Seattle Times staff reporter Hal Bernton contributed to this report.



Staff Sgt. Robert Bales




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