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Testimony suggests accused soldier was remorseful

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. — A friend of Staff Sergeant Robert Bales testified Wednesday that he thought Bales was remorseful after being taken into custody following a massacre at two Afghan villages last March.

Defense witness First Sergeant Vernon Bigham testified by video from Kandahar Air Field in Afghanistan in a third day of testimony in a preliminary hearing for Bales.

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The hearing, which is expected to feature video testimony from Afghan villagers and soldiers on Friday and Saturday, will help determine whether Bales faces a court martial on 16 counts of premeditated murder.

Bales is accused of leaving Camp Belambay in Kandahar province last March to slaughter civilians during a predawn attack on two nearby villages.

Bigham said he saw Bales at the air field after the killings and that he seemed to want to confess. But Bales had invoked his right to remain silent, and Bigham told him not to talk.

Bales had been stationed at the remote outpost at Belambay because he was considered tough enough to handle the assignment, Bigham testified.

Others have said Bales made a midmassacre confession, asked for help bleaching his stained clothing, and deliberately destroyed his laptop.

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