Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System/AFP/Getty Images
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales (left), the U.S. soldier who allegedly shot and killed 16 civilians in Afghanistan, at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif., on Aug. 23.
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales (left), the U.S. soldier who allegedly shot and killed 16 civilians in Afghanistan, at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif., on Aug. 23. Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System/AFP/Getty Images
The United States soldier charged with the murder of 16 Afghan villagers entered a guilty plea on Wednesday during a court hearing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state.
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales pleaded guilty to 16 counts of premeditated murder, The Seattle Times reports, but he pleaded not guilty to "attempting to impede an investigation into the case by damaging a laptop computer."
The Times adds:
"A military judge will question the soldier about what happened before deciding whether to accept his guilty pleas.
"Bales' attorney, John Henry Browne, has said he expects his client to admit to 'very specific facts' about the killings at the hearing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Seattle."
As Scott reported last week, Bales served four combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. In March 2012, during his last tour, Bales "entered a village in southern Kandahar province and opened fire on sleeping Afghan civilians." The rampage is the worst mass killing by a U.S. soldier acting alone since the Vietnam War.
As Mark reported last December, it is technically possible for Bales to receive the death penalty. But the Seattle Times reports that the U.S military justice system has not executed anyone since 1961.
We'll keep track of the hearing and update this post once Bales answers questions from the judge, Col. Jeffery Nance.