Not very familiar with this case but I was surprised he didn't go down the insanity route.
It is exceedingly difficult to mount an insanity defense in a US military court.
The military may form a so-called sanity board to conduct a mental evaluation and determine whether Bales is fit to stand trial. Many such cases have been delayed to ensure that the accused can participate in his defense, according to a military judge advocate who briefed reporters at the Pentagon last week on condition of anonymity because charges hadn’t been brought.
The judge advocate said he couldn’t recall a case in which a successful insanity defense was waged based on evidence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Eugene Fidell, who teaches military law at Yale Law School, said in an interview that he “can’t find any case in which a person has been acquitted by reason of insanity with respect to PTSD.’
One reason a mental-illness defense for Bales may be a hard sell is the composition of the jury that eventually would hear his case.
In civilian courts, a jury of the defendants’ peers is chosen randomly from the population, subject to vetting by the prosecution and the defense. Military jurors, known as ‘‘court members,” are selected by the military “convening authority,” which is often the base commander or a higher officer, Davis said.
While the members of such panels typically are all officers, the accused may request that as many as a third of the members come from enlisted ranks higher than his own. For Staff Sergeant Bales, that would mean sergeants first class and higher, the top 13 percent or less of the Army’s enlisted soldiers, all with a minimum of six years of service.
Eighty-three percent of military officers had bachelor’s or advanced degrees in 2010, compared with 30 percent of the U.S. population over the age of 25, according to the Defense Department’s “Demographics 2010” report.
“It’s probably the most educated jury you will ever find,” Davis said.