In this courtroom sketch, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, left, appears before Judge Col. Jeffery Nance in a courtroom at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013, during a sentencing hearing in the slayings of 16 civilians killed during pre-dawn raids on two villages on March 11, 2012. Haji Mohammad Naim, an Afghan farmer shot during a massacre in Kandahar Province last year, took the witness stand Tuesday against Bales, who attacked his village, cursing him before breaking down and pleading with the prosecutor not to ask him any more questions. (AP Photo/Peter Millet)
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (AP) -- The U.S. soldier who massacred 16 Afghan villagers apologized for his "act of cowardice" as he made his case for why he should one day have a shot at freedom.
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales said Thursday that he was operating "behind a mask of fear ... and bravado" when he went on a solo nighttime mission and slaughtered villagers in mud-walled huts.
Bales, 39, pleaded guilty in June in a deal to avoid the death penalty for the March 11, 2012 attacks. A jury is determining if his life sentence should offer a chance of parole.
Bales says that he was mad at himself for being angry all the time, drinking too much and hiding his problems.