Wednesday afternoon, an Army Judge accepted a plea deal that enables a soldier to avert the death penalty for his murder of 16 Afghans and attempting to murder six others as well as burning bodies and the illegal use of steroids and drinking alcohol while on duty.
Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales pleaded guilty earlier in the day to the March 2012 murderous rampage. Bales entered his plea during a court martial hearing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Seattle.
For the first time in court, Bales spoke the names of his 16 victims and acknowledged he killed them. There were nine female victims and seven male victims.
Bales said, in reviewing investigative reports and listening to witness testimony at a pretrial hearing, that he did in fact use a kerosene lantern to set the bodies afire.
Under the terms of an agreement, Bales will serve a life term in prison—with or without the possibility of parole depending upon another phase of the court martial proceedings which will begin Monday, August 19.