WHAT HAPPENED: The Army says Staff Sgt. Robert Bales slipped away from his southern Afghanistan outpost in March 2012 and attacked mud-walled compounds in two villages nearby, killing 16 people, including women and children. Bales, an Ohio native and father of two from Lake Tapps, Wash., had been drinking contraband alcohol, snorting Valium that was provided to him by another soldier, and had been taking steroids before the attack, his lawyers have said.
THE LEGAL CASE: Bales is charged with 16 counts of premeditated murder and six counts of attempted murder. His attorney, John Henry Browne, said last week that Bales wanted to plead guilty in a deal to avoid the death penalty. Any plea deal must be approved by the judge as well as the commanding general at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, where Bales is being held. A jury this summer would decide whether Bales receives a sentence of life with or without parole.
THE REACTION: Browne said Bales, who was on his fourth combat deployment, was "crazed" and "broken" the night of the slayings. In Afghanistan, news that Bales might not be sentenced to death was met with outrage from friends and family members of victims. Said Jan, whose wife and three other relatives died, told The Associated Press in Kandahar during interviews in April: "A prison sentence doesn't mean anything. ... I know we have no power now. But I will become stronger, and if he does not hang, I will have my revenge."
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