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Former JAG lawyer shares insight into trial for accused Afghan killer

John Henry Browne, a civilian attorney for U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, talks to reporters, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, following Bales' arraignment at Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington state. Bales is accused of 16 counts of premeditated murder and six counts of attempted murder for a pre-dawn attack on two villages in Kandahar Province in Afghanistan in March, 2012. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Attorney John Henry Browne believes the case against the accused killer of 16 Afghan civilians in politically motivated.

“Unfortunately I believe that it is,” Browne told reporters following Bales’ arraignment on Thursday. “My opinion is that the American public is ignoring the war in Afghanistan and has for some time.”

Seattle attorney and former JAG lawyer Stephen H. Carpenter says that Browne’s defense of Bales will come down to one important matter, however.

“It’s the premeditation that’s key,” Carpenter told Seattle’s Morning News.

Carpenter believes that Browne may not get a fair shake on the sanity board hearing, one of Browne’s major contentions at the arraignment on Thursday.

The main difference between civilian court and military court, according to Carpenter come from the provisions allowed and not allowed during the mental health exam of Bales. The military doesn’t provide for a civilian lawyer to be present and they do not provide for video taping of the sanity board conducted by a psychiatrist.

Carpenter said he can imagine that based on Bales’ dealing with PTSD, brain trauma and substance use, that those very important issues will have to to play out at trial. With the outcome of the sanity board hearing still on the line said Carpenter, Browne will have to prove Bales is not eligible to be put to death.

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