Staff Sgt. Robert Bales Pleads Guilty To Afghan Massacre

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Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales pictured in Aug. 2011.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales has pleaded guilty to multiple murder counts in the massacre of 16 Afghan civilians, nine of whom were children, according to the Associated Press.

The A.P. reports Bales, 39, entered his guilty plea to avoid the death penalty.

Bales was charged with 16 counts of premeditated murder, six counts of attempted murder, and seven counts of assault.

As Home Post reported last year, the bloody attack took place in the early morning hours of March 11, 2012. Prosecutors say Bales left his base in southern Afghanistan and attacked one village of sleeping Afghan civilians. He then returned to the base, only to leave again to attack another village.

ABC News reports Bales is expected to give his account of what happened on March 11 for the first time publicly, when judge Col. Jeffery Nance questions him about the murders.

The court proceedings are taking place at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state. Bales's wife Karilyn is present at today's hearing, and has been supporting her husband ever since he was arrested, according to the A.P. The couple has two children.

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