Sgt. Robert Bales to be sentenced in deadly Afghan rampage

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales entered guilty pleas to 16 counts of murder.

Story highlights

  • He admitted to 16 Afghans and wounding several more in a house-to-house rampage
  • Bales now faces life in prison
  • Jury will decide if he will have a chance at parole

The sentencing phase begins Monday for Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales who has admitted to gunning down 16 civilians in a 2012 rampage through two villages near his outpost in southern Afghanistan.

Bales pleaded guilty in June to more than 30 criminal charges, including 16 premeditated murder counts, in a hearing before a military judge.

The guilty plea spares the 39-year-old Bales the prospect of a death sentence in the killings. He now faces life in prison, but a jury of four officers and two enlisted personnel will decide whether he will have a chance at parole.

Bales admitted to slipping away from his outpost in southern Afghanistan and going on a house-to-house killing spree in two nearby villages in March 2012, a massacre that further strained ties between American troops and their Afghan allies.

But he has not offered an explanation for his actions.

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In addition to the murder counts, Bales pleaded guilty to six counts of attempted murder, seven of assault and the use of illicit steroids and alcohol, but pleaded not guilty to a charge of obstruction of justice.

Bales is a member of the Army's 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, an element of the 2nd Infantry Division. His attorneys have said the service made a mistake in assigning Bales to another combat tour despite evidence of post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury suffered during a combat tour in Iraq.