Stories of the massacre came, one by one, over a live video link from Afghanistan into a military courtroom outside Seattle: torched bodies, a son finding his wounded father, boys cowering behind a curtain while others screamed "We are children! We are children!"

As the Afghans recounted the horror that left 16 dead in the darkness early on March 11, the U.S. soldier accused of carrying out the rampage sat quietly in the courtroom.

At one point, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales moved closer to a large monitor showing the testimony. At other times, he watched as it played on a laptop screen in front of him. Either way, he gave no discernible reaction to the stories he heard.