Sgt. Bales Charged with 17 Counts of Murder

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FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. — Staff Sgt. Robert Bales has been charged with 17 counts of pre-meditated murder in the Afghan massacre, the U.S. Forces in Afghanistan announced Friday.

Bales, 38, is accused of leaving a remote U.S. combat post on foot in the predawn hours of March 11 and gunning down Afghans in their homes. Nine of the 17 victims were children. There were 16 victims killed that day and another reportedly died from injuries later.

Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Bales could face the death penalty.

John Henry Browne, Bales’ attorney, arrived at the Kansas City International Airport over the weekend to visit his client, who remains in solitary confinement at the military prison.  Browne is from Seattle and is most known for representing serial killer Ted Bundy and mass murderer Benjamin Ng (ing).

Bales joined the army two months after Sept 11, 2001. He first deployed to Iraq in 2003, then again in 2006, serving 15 straight months as part of then-President George W. Bush’s “surge” of 20,000 additional troops. During that second tour, Browne said, Bales was wounded and had to have part of his foot amputated.

He deployed to Iraq a third time between 2009 and 2010, during which he received a traumatic brain injury when his vehicle flipped after striking a roadside bomb, according to Browne.

Bales was denied a promotion last year to Sergeant First Class, and was on his fourth deployment, this time in Afghanistan. His wife Karilyn and her two kids are currently under federal protection.

The massacre has caused further tension between the United States and Afghanistan.

In an exclusive interview with CNN, a Taliban commander said, “We don’t think that one American soldier was involved in the attack. The foreigners and the puppet regime are blind to the truth of what happened there. But if this was the act of one soldier we want this soldier to be prosecuted in Afghanistan and according to Islamic law.”

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