The Army soldier spoke at this week's sentencing, calling what he'd done "an act of cowardice."
"I hid behind a mask of Bravado," Bales said, according to a tweet from court from Drew Mikkelsen of CNN Seattle affiliate KING. Also admitting he'd taken steroids and drank sporadically, the soldier apologized to his victims.
"I am responsible," he said.
Because of him, some in Afghanistan are still suffering the consequences.
Haji Mohammad Naim saw Bales come into his southwest Afghanistan home around 2 a.m. and kill women there, as well as some of his children. Bullets struck him in the neck and the face.
That incident and others in which U.S. soldiers have killed civilians -- including another of Naim's sons, in a separate incident, he says -- have disgraced American forces in the eyes of many Afghans. Children in his village used to run toward U.S. troops, Naim said; now, they "run away and try to hide."
If America is to improve its image, there must be accountability, he said. And if Washington wants to help rebuild Afghanistan, "try to send the right people, not maniacs and psychos like (Bales)."
Still, even if the U.S. governments acts differently, some pain and suffering can't be undone.
Recalling tears shed by Bales' mother during the legal proceedings, Naim said, "But at least she can go and visit him.
"What about us?" he asked rhetorically. "Our family members are actually 6 feet under, and there's no way that we can visit them at all.