The military hasn’t executed a service member since 1961, when an Army ammunition handler was hanged for raping an 11-year-old girl in Austria.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said the death penalty is possible if Bales is found guilty.
Afghan witnesses recounted the villagers who lived in the attacked compounds and listed the names of those killed. The bodies were buried quickly under Islamic custom, and no forensic evidence was available to prove the number of victims.
The witnesses included Zardana, 8, who sipped from a pink juice box before she testified. She suffered a gunshot wound to the top of her head, but after two months at a military hospital in Afghanistan and three more at a Navy hospital in San Diego, she can walk and talk again.
None of the Afghan witnesses were able to identify Bales as the shooter, but other evidence, including tests of the blood on his clothes, implicated him, according to testimony from a DNA expert.
Several soldiers testified that Bales returned to the base alone just before dawn the morning of the attacks, covered in blood, and that he made incriminating statements such as, ‘‘I thought I was doing the right thing.’’
Prosecutors say he also made a mid-massacre confession, returning to the base to wake another soldier and report his activities before heading out to the other village. The soldier testified that he didn’t believe Bales and went back to sleep.
Bales, an Ohio native and father of two from Lake Tapps, Wash., has not entered a plea and was not expected to testify at the preliminary hearing. His attorneys say he has post-traumatic stress disorder and suffered a concussive head injury while serving in Iraq.
Watson contributed from San Diego. Associated Press Writer Mirwais Khan in Kandahar also contributed to this report.
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