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Death Penalty May Await Soldier in Afghan Killings

Army soldier accused of killing 16 Afghans would face lethal injection: lawyer
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2012 5:00 PM CDT
Death Penalty May Await Soldier in Afghan Killings
The US soldier accused of gunning down 16 villagers near Kandahar may face the death penalty.   (AP Photo/Bela Szandelszky)

(Newser) – The US soldier accused of gunning down 16 Afghan civilians near Kandahar may himself be killed for the crime, a military defense attorney tells MSNBC. "Based on what we’re hearing I suspect this will be prosecuted as a death penalty case," says Philip Cave, who is based in Washington. "You’ve got felony murder, and certainly the number of victims and the circumstances—very young children as victims—I think there will be sufficient grounds to move forward as a death penalty case."

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The suspect, reported to be a 38-year-old father of two, will probably undergo extensive psychological testing during the "Article 32" investigation—a thorough inquiry including witness testimony. A military trial will follow, and if a court-martial conviction imposes the death penalty, President Obama himself will have to sign the man's death warrant. It would be the first soldier execution by the military since John Bennett was hanged in 1961 for raping and trying to murder an 11-year-old Austrian girl. (Read more Afghanistan war stories.)

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