Defense set to begin in Afghan massacre case

By GENE JOHNSON | November 6, 2012 | 1:34 PM EST

In this detail of a courtroom sketch, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, seated at front-right, listens Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, during a preliminary hearing in a military courtroom 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. At upper-right is Investigating Officer Col. Lee Deneke, and seated at front-left is Bales' civilian attorney, Emma Scanlan. (AP Photo/Lois Silver)

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. (AP) — Day two of a preliminary hearing in the case of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is under way, and the first witnesses for the defense are scheduled to take the stand.

A total of eight witnesses had been scheduled to testify Tuesday, but the day began with a defense lawyer saying she'd changed her mind about calling one of them.

Three defense witnesses and four government witnesses, all Special Forces members, remained on the list.

Bales faces 16 counts of premeditated murder in an attack on two villages in southern Afghanistan last March.

A prosecutor said Monday that Bales slipped away from his post in Kandahar Province at night and returned soaked in blood.

He was wearing a cape, which other soldiers speculated might have been because enemy fighters sometimes wore them to try to hide from U.S. surveillance cameras.