Sgt. Robert Bales: His wife says 'he loves children'

In a Today Show interview Monday, Karilyn Bales says it's 'unbelievable' that her husband would kill 17 Afghan civilians, including nine children. Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is charged with premeditated murder.

Today Show
Karilyn Bales, wife of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, during an interview on NBC's Today Show, March 26, 2012.

The wife of a US soldier accused of killing 17 Afghan civilians says her husband showed no signs of stress before he deployed, and adds that she doesn't feel like she'll ever believe he was involved in the killings.

Karilyn Bales defended her husband, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, in an interview for NBC's "Today" show that aired on Monday.

She said she has spoken to her husband by telephone twice since he was detained, but she didn't ask her husband about the accusations he faces.

"We couldn't discuss those details," she said. "He was ... seemed a bit confused, as to where he was and why he was there."

Officials say Bales wandered off base in southern Afghanistan earlier this month and killed eight Afghan adults and nine children. He was formally charged Friday with 17 counts of premeditated murder and other crimes. He is being held at a military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

RELATED: How well do you know Afghanistan? Take the quiz

Karilyn Bales said the accusations are "unbelievable to me."

"He loves children, he's like a big kid himself," she said. "I have no idea what happened, but he would not ... he loves children, and he would not do that."

She said her husband joined the Army after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to "protect his family, friends and country. He wanted to do his part." She said her husband is "very brave, very courageous."

Her husband never had nightmares or other signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, Karilyn Bales said, and she feels like he was mentally fit when he was deployed. She said he never told her about a traumatic brain injury he suffered while in Iraq until he returned home.

"He shielded me from a lot of what he went through," she said. "He's a very tough guy."

U.S. investigators have said they believe Bales killed in two episodes, returning to his base after the first attack and later slipping away to kill again. He is reported to have surrendered without a struggle.

The 38-year-old married father of two was on his fourth tour of duty in a war zone, having served three tours in Iraq, where he suffered the head injury and a foot injury. His civilian attorney, John Henry Browne, has said Bales and his family had thought he was done fighting, but he was sent to Afghanistan.

Karilyn Bales said she doesn't think she'll have to ask her husband what happened that night in Afghanistan because "I think he'll tell me what happened, from his point of view."

She said she can't believe he was involved in the killings.

"I don't think anything will really change my mind in believing that he did not do this. This is not what it appears to be," she said.

RELATED: How well do you know Afghanistan? Take the quiz

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.