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Lawyers: US Soldier Accused of Afghan Massacre to Plead Guilty


US Staff Sgt. Robert Bales
US Staff Sgt. Robert Bales
Lawyers for a U.S. army sergeant charged with deliberately killing 16 civilians in Afghanistan last year say he will plead guilty to avoid the death penalty.

Sergeant Robert Bales' attorneys say he will plead guilty to premeditated murder at his next military court appearance on June 5 near Seattle, Washington.

Bales would likely be sentenced to life in prison and the court must decide if he is eligible for parole.

Panjwai District , Kandahar, Afghanistan
Panjwai District , Kandahar, Afghanistan
Military prosecutors charged Bales with 16 counts of premeditated murder. They accuse him of slipping away from his outpost in southern Afghanistan and shooting and stabbing civilians in two villages in March, 2012. Nine of his victims were children.

The army says this was a revenge attack for a bombing that seriously wounded another soldier.

Bales' lawyer, John Henry Browne, said his client was on his fourth combat tour in Afghanistan and was suffering post-traumatic stress and the effects of a concussion.

Relatives of some of Bales' victims have told the Associated Press that they would seek revenge if Bales is not sentenced to death. The military has not executed a U.S. soldier since 1961.
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