The Associated Press is reporting the U.S. Army will seek the death penalty against a soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers in March.
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, 39, faces premeditated murder and other charges in the attack on two villages in southern Afghanistan. The date for court martial, which will be held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Seattle, has not been set.
Prosecutors contend Bales left his remote southern Afghanistan base early on March 11, attacked one village and returned to the base, then went out again to attack another nearby compound; seven adults and nine children were killed in the attacks, according to The Associated Press reports.
Bales was serving his fourth deployment in a war zone, according to reports.
"The Army is not taking responsibility for Sgt. Bales and other soldiers that the Army knowingly sends into combat situations with diagnosed PTSD, concussive head injuries and other injuries," Bales’ civilian lawyer John Henry Browne told The Associated Press. "The Army is trying to take the focus off the failure of its decisions, and the failure of the war itself, and making Sgt. Bales out to be a rogue soldier."
According to The Associated Press, an Army criminal investigations command special agent testified that Bales tested positive for steroids three days after the killings, and some soldiers have testified Bales was drinking before the massacres took place.
The U.S. military has not executed anyone since 1961, but there are five men currently facing military death sentences, all for murders committed stateside, The Associated Press reported.