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U.S. Soldier Faces Up To Life Without Parole For Killing 16 Afghans

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash., (UPI) — The U.S. soldier who could get life in prison without parole for murdering 16 Afghan civilians said in court Monday he’s “just trying to do the right thing.”

Several Afghan civilians have either been flown to Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state to testify at this week’s sentencing for Army Sgt. Robert Bales or will appear via video conference, WPCQ-TV, Tacoma, reported.

The some of the Afghan villagers were wounded during Bales’ rampage and others lost relatives, The (Tacoma) News Tribune reported.

“I’m just trying to do the right thing,” Bales said at the hearing where some of the ground rules for the sentencing phase were laid out.

Prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty in return for his guilty plea to the March 2012 killings, CNN reported. A military panel of four officers and two elicited personnel will decide if Bales, 39, should ever be given a chance for parole.

Bales’ attorneys have said he suffered from post traumatic stress syndrome and brain injury after four tours of combat and had been using drugs and alcohol the night of he made raids on family compounds in Kandahar province.

Prosecutors have said Bales was upset about an explosion near his outpost and the attacks were his response.

In addition to the 16 murder counts, Bales pleaded guilty to six counts of attempted murder, seven of assault and the use of illicit steroids and alcohol. He pleaded not guilty to obstruction of justice.

Prosecutors, who intend to show Bales’ lack of remorse, have said they intend to play a tape of Bales and his wife Kari laughing about part of the Army’s case against him and one in which the couple talk about a possible book deal for Kari. Because defense attorneys contend the excerpts need more context, more than 2 hours of Bales’ conversations with his wife may be played in court, The News Tribune said.

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