On stand, Bergdahl apologizes to those hurt looking for him - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

On stand, Bergdahl apologizes to those hurt looking for him

Posted: Updated:
FORT BRAGG, N.C. -

In an unexpected and emotional statement, Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl apologized in court Monday to all the military personnel who were wounded searching for him and described the daily nightmares and flashbacks to his five years in captivity of Taliban allies he still endures.
  
Bergdahl was the first witness in what's expected to be a multi-day presentation by the defense to the judge who will decide his punishment for endangering comrades by walking off his post in Afghanistan in 2009. He spoke for two hours, giving a wide-ranging description of his brutal years in captivity and what challenges he still faces with daily life.
  
"I would like everyone who searched for me to know it was never my intention for anyone to be hurt, and I never expected that to happen," he said, choking up at times. "My words alone can't take away their pain."
  
Bergdahl faces a maximum of life in prison after pleading guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.
  
His appearance on the witness stand, which the defense hadn't publicly made known in advance, served as a dramatic counterpoint to several days of emotionally wrenching testimony by several service members who were seriously wounded during a massive search effort. He described the brutal conditions he faced, including beatings with copper wire and unending bouts of gastrointestinal problems brought on by squalid conditions. He was kept in a cage for four out of the five years after several escape attempts, and his muscles atrophied to the point he could barely stand or walk.
  
Asked by a defense attorney what the worst part of captivity was, he responded that it wasn't the beatings.
  
"The worst was the constant, just the constant deterioration of everything. The constant pain from my body falling apart. The constant screams from my mind," he said, haltingly. "It was the years of waiting to see whether or not the next time someone opens the door if that would be the person coming to execute you."
  
Bergdahl said he still has nightmares that make it hard to sleep more than five hours. He checks his door at least three times to make sure it's secure each night and sleeps with a flashlight nearby.
  
He wakes up sometimes not remembering that he's back in the U.S., he said, and has daytime flashbacks to captivity arising from unpredictable triggers.
  
"It could be anything: A smell, perfume, damp earth, garbage," he said.
  
The 31-year-old soldier from Hailey, Idaho, was brought home by President Barack Obama brought him in 2014 in a swap for five Taliban prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.
  
Because Bergdahl's words in court were an unsworn statement, prosecutors won't be given the chance to cross-examine him.
  
His dramatic words came after an eventful morning in which the judge ruled that President Donald Trump's scathing criticism Bergdahl won't prevent the soldier from receiving a fair sentence.
  
Then-Republican nominee Trump repeatedly called Bergdahl a traitor on the campaign trial and suggested that he be shot or thrown from a plane without a parachute. Trump revived those comments when Bergdahl pleaded guilty on Oct. 16 by saying at a news conference that he thinks people are aware of what he said before.
  
Nance did say he would keep Trump's comments in mind as he weighs other factors that will go into his sentencing decision. The hearing is expected to last several more days.
  
Following Nance's ruling, prosecutors called their final witness, Shannon Allen, to discuss a traumatic brain injury suffered by her husband when he was shot in the head during a search mission for Bergdahl. National Guard Master Sgt. Mark Allen was on a mission to gather information in two villages in July 2009 when his unit was ambushed by insurgents using small arms, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.
  
The soldier is unable to speak, uses a wheelchair and needs help with everyday tasks, his wife testified.
  
Shannon Allen's voice faltered when she referred to the brain injury's effect on his interactions with their daughter, who was an infant when he was wounded. She is now 9 and Mark Allen is in his mid-30s.
  
"He's not able to reach out for her or talk to her," she said, tearing up and pausing to take a deep breath. "He's never had the chance to really play with her or help coach her sports or ask about her day."
  
___
  
Follow Drew at www.twitter.com/jonldrew

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Court documents offer disturbing details in Spokane infant's death

    Court documents offer disturbing details in Spokane infant's death

    Saturday, August 18 2018 2:34 AM EDT2018-08-18 06:34:50 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Court documents are offering more details about a disturbing case of child abuse in Spokane. Investigators arrested 33-year-old Erik Sherman in the death of his baby Thursday. One doctor who witnessed the abuse told investigators in court documents it was "one of the worst cases of child abuse he had seen in 23 years of practice."

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Court documents are offering more details about a disturbing case of child abuse in Spokane. Investigators arrested 33-year-old Erik Sherman in the death of his baby Thursday. One doctor who witnessed the abuse told investigators in court documents it was "one of the worst cases of child abuse he had seen in 23 years of practice."

    >>
  • Legal battle raging over home owned by Shasta Groene but used by her dad

    Legal battle raging over home owned by Shasta Groene but used by her dad

    Saturday, August 18 2018 2:37 AM EDT2018-08-18 06:37:31 GMT

    COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - 13 years ago Shasta Groene lived through unimaginable horror. In mid-May, 2005, her mother, her mother's boyfriend, and her oldest brother were murdered in front of her. 8-year-old Shasta was kidnapped and, along with her 9-year-old brother Dylan, tortured and sexually abused for weeks. 

    >>

    COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - 13 years ago Shasta Groene lived through unimaginable horror. In mid-May, 2005, her mother, her mother's boyfriend, and her oldest brother were murdered in front of her. 8-year-old Shasta was kidnapped and, along with her 9-year-old brother Dylan, tortured and sexually abused for weeks. 

    >>
  • Lawyer says girls' bodies were submerged in oil

    Lawyer says girls' bodies were submerged in oil

    Friday, August 17 2018 9:16 PM EDT2018-08-18 01:16:06 GMT

    FREDERICK, Colo. (AP) - A lawyer for a Colorado man suspected in the deaths of his pregnant wife and two young daughters says the daughters' bodies were submerged in crude oil for four days before they were found.  Defense attorney James Merson made the statement in a court motion Friday. The motion asks a judge to order that DNA samples be taken from the children's throats.

    >>

    FREDERICK, Colo. (AP) - A lawyer for a Colorado man suspected in the deaths of his pregnant wife and two young daughters says the daughters' bodies were submerged in crude oil for four days before they were found.  Defense attorney James Merson made the statement in a court motion Friday. The motion asks a judge to order that DNA samples be taken from the children's throats.

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • Top Stories from KHQHomeMore>>

  • Defense DNA request denied in deaths of Colorado mom, kids

    Defense DNA request denied in deaths of Colorado mom, kids

    Saturday, August 18 2018 8:33 PM EDT2018-08-19 00:33:15 GMT

    FREDERICK, Colo. (AP) - A Colorado judge has denied a request by a defense attorney for a man accused of killing his wife and two daughters to require a coroner to collect DNA from the necks of the young girls. KMGH-TV and the Daily Camera newspaper in Boulder reported the judge said in an order he would not tell the medical examiner's office involved in the case how to do its job. 

    >>

    FREDERICK, Colo. (AP) - A Colorado judge has denied a request by a defense attorney for a man accused of killing his wife and two daughters to require a coroner to collect DNA from the necks of the young girls. KMGH-TV and the Daily Camera newspaper in Boulder reported the judge said in an order he would not tell the medical examiner's office involved in the case how to do its job. 

    >>
  • Police: Florida man, 88, burns raccoon over eating mangoes

    Police: Florida man, 88, burns raccoon over eating mangoes

    Saturday, August 18 2018 8:23 PM EDT2018-08-19 00:23:26 GMT

    PALM BAY, Fla. (AP) - An 88-year-old Florida man was arrested after police said he burned a trapped raccoon alive because the animal had eaten his mangoes. Ezra James told WKMG-TV in a story Saturday that he threw gasoline on the raccoon and lit a match. In addition to the mangoes, James says he was afraid the raccoon might give him rabies. James lives in the coastal town of Palm Bay, located about 75 miles (120 kilometers) southeast of Orlando.   

    >>

    PALM BAY, Fla. (AP) - An 88-year-old Florida man was arrested after police said he burned a trapped raccoon alive because the animal had eaten his mangoes. Ezra James told WKMG-TV in a story Saturday that he threw gasoline on the raccoon and lit a match. In addition to the mangoes, James says he was afraid the raccoon might give him rabies. James lives in the coastal town of Palm Bay, located about 75 miles (120 kilometers) southeast of Orlando.   

    >>
  • Migrant spouse of pregnant woman detained on way to hospital

    Migrant spouse of pregnant woman detained on way to hospital

    Saturday, August 18 2018 8:12 PM EDT2018-08-19 00:12:02 GMT

    LOS ANGELES (AP) - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says that the California man who was arrested by its agents as he drove his wife to the hospital so she could give birth had a warrant for his arrest in Mexico. In a statement, spokeswoman Lori Haley says Joel Arrona Lara "was brought to ICE's attention due to an outstanding warrant issued for his arrest in Mexico on homicide charges." Arrona remains in custody pending removal proceedings.

    >>

    LOS ANGELES (AP) - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says that the California man who was arrested by its agents as he drove his wife to the hospital so she could give birth had a warrant for his arrest in Mexico. In a statement, spokeswoman Lori Haley says Joel Arrona Lara "was brought to ICE's attention due to an outstanding warrant issued for his arrest in Mexico on homicide charges." Arrona remains in custody pending removal proceedings.

    >>