The United States Army is seeking the death penalty for Staff Sargeant Robert Bales, who stands accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians in March. Prosecutors accuse Bales of attacking two villages in southern Afghanistan. Of the 16 deaths, nine were children.
Prosecutors suggest Bales' attacks were revenge for a friend who lost a leg, according to the New York Times and the Associated Press.
Bales' defense lawyers argue that the death penalty would be inappropriate, saying the Sargent's use of alcohol, sleeping aids, and steroids, alongside multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, may have affected his mental state. According to the AP, the defense team is trying to determine if Bales suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Bales' court martial will be held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington, according to the Associated Press, though no date has been set. If the prosecution succeeds, Bales will be the 17th soldier to receive the death penalty since 1984, the NYTimes reports, though no military death sentence has been carried out since 1961.
Via the New York Times and the Associated Press.