Sgt. Bales' Lawyer Blames Drugs and Alcohol for Killing Spree

By McCarton Ackerman 05/30/13

The soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians was "pumped" with steroid-like drugs and booze, his lawyer claims.

Did steroids make Sgt. Bales snap? Photo via

A lawyer for Army staff sergeant Robert Bales, who is accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians including children and wounding six others last year, said that special operations troops at a small military outpost in Afghanistan "pumped" him with alcohol and steroid-like drugs. "He was provided all these things," attorney John Henry Browne told CNN. "Special forces were in charge." Prosecutors say that the soldier slipped off the base after dark in March 2012 and went from house to house, shooting villagers. Browne said that Bales will plead guilty to the killings in order to avoid the death penalty; if the deal is approved, Browne will attempt to prove that his client was given alcohol and drugs in order to make parole a possibility in his life sentence. Bales was charged with illicit use of steroids and alcohol, while witnesses testified last year that he had consumed alcohol with other soldiers before the attack. However, Browne argues the Army made an egregious error in assigning Bales to a fourth combat tour despite visible evidence of post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury suffered during combat in Iraq. "[Bales was] a broken man," said Browne, "We broke him. He never should have been there." He also said last year that "steroid use is going to be an issue in this case, especially where Sgt. Bales got steroids and how he got steroids." The next hearing is scheduled for June 5.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.