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Prosecutor of gunman in Afghanistan massacre:
Case faced hurdles despite victims’ sentiment


The following by The Associated Press appeared in numerous publications nationwide, including The Washington Post. Military prosecutor U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jay Morse was interviewed when he spoke to students in SMU's Dedman School of Law on Nov. 7, 2013.

November 8, 2013

The Associated Press

DALLAS — When the soldier who massacred 16 Afghan civilians was sentenced to life in prison without parole, many of his victims in the courtroom were furious. They wanted Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales executed.

Lt. Col. Jay Morse, the lead prosecutor, told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday that the case faced significant hurdles, from limited access to the crime scene to a drawdown of American troops from Afghanistan, which made a quick resolution ideal.

Still, to a prosecutor whose goal was to try to satisfy Bales’ victims, their reaction was difficult, but understandable.

 “I don’t think they were completely satisfied,” Morse said. “I don’t know that they would have been completely satisfied without literally seeing Sgt. Bales executed.”

Bales admitted to carrying out a March 2012 massacre in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province. He walked through remote mud-walled compounds late at night and gunned down residents, shooting 22 people, many of them women and children. Some were in bed.

Bales’ guilty plea in August allowed him to avoid the death penalty.

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