Afghan Massacre Suspect to Plead Guilty, Avoid Death

Victims' relatives are irate Robert Bales won't face execution
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted May 30, 2013 2:40 AM CDT
In this Aug. 23, 2011 file photo, Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales participates in an exercise at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.   (AP Photo/DVIDS, Spc. Ryan Hallock)

(Newser) – Staff Sgt. Robert Bales will plead guilty to the murder of 16 Afghan villagers, his lawyer tells CNN, in a move to dodge the death penalty. Lawyer John Henry Browne says military prosecutors have approved the plea, but a rep for Joint Base Lewis-McChord wouldn't say whether the matter was settled, the New York Times reports. A plea hearing is set for Wednesday, the rep said.

Browne says Bales was "crazed" and "broken" at the time of the attack, but he didn't qualify for a legal insanity defense, per the AP. Afghan villagers are furious at the possibility Bales might not face capital punishment. "A prison sentence doesn't mean anything," says a relative of several victims. "I know we have no power now. But I will become stronger, and if he does not hang, I will have my revenge." Added a man who had 11 relatives killed in the attack: "For this one thing, we would kill 100 American soldiers." (Read more Robert Bales stories.)

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