The wife of a US soldier accused of fatally shooting 17 Afghan civilians broke her silence Monday, insisting in a television interview that her husband was not capable of the heinous crimes.
“I have no idea what happened. But he would not — he loves children. And he would not do that,” Karilyn Bales told NBC television’s “Today Show” program.
Military investigators suspect Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, who been charged with premeditated murder in connection with the attacks, committed the shootings during two separate stages.
But his wife said it was particularly unimaginable that the father of two would have mowed down children.
“He loves children. He’s like a big kid himself,” she told NBC.
“It’s heartbreaking. I can’t imagine losing my children. So my heart definitely goes out to them for losing all of their children,” Bales said.
Bales was formally charged last week with 17 premeditated murders as well as six counts of assault and attempted murder in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province earlier this month.
His wife told NBC that his deployment to Afghanistan had been “more intense” than his previous stints in Iraq where he had been deployed three times.
Karilyn Bales said both she and her husband were taken aback upon learning that he was to be dispatched to Afghanistan for a fourth tour of duty.
“It was a big shock. Because we weren’t on the schedule to be deployed again, to be honest with you. He didn’t want to miss out on any more of his kids’ life,” she said.
“When he had joined he had wanted to go to Afghanistan. Going to Afghanistan didn’t worry him. It was more about being just away from the family, more time.”
She added that Sergeant Bales, 38, “proudly” served his country in the military, but that he had not shared with her any information about his battlefield wounds including traumatic brain injury.
“The only time I ever heard about any of those things was after he got back. He kept a lot of it from me,” she said.
“He shielded me from a lot of what he went through. He’s a very tough guy.”
She also said she never saw evidence of signs of post traumatic stress, the emotional stress disorder that afflicts many soldiers after returning from the battlefield.
“I don’t know a lot about the symptoms of PTSD, so I wouldn’t know — he doesn’t have nightmares, you know, things like that.”
Bales is currently being held at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, and was likely to be tried in the United States on a date yet to be determined.
Karilyn Bales said she has spoken to her husband twice on the phone since his arrest but they have not as yet discussed that allegations that he was responsible for the shootings, for which, if he is convicted, he could face the death penalty.
Because they were speaking on a monitored phone “we couldn’t discuss those details,” Bales said of her conversations with her husband.
“He seemed a bit confused as to where he was and why he was there,” she told NBC.
(Karilyn Bales, wife of U.S. soldier accused in Afghan massacre, screenshot via the Today Show on NBC)
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