Robert Bales: Army soldier to admit Afghanistan massacre to avoid death penalty, AP reports

SEATTLE (AP) -- The Army staff sergeant charged with murdering 16 Afghan villagers during pre-dawn raids last year has agreed to plead guilty in a deal to avoid the death penalty.

   John Henry Browne, an attorney for Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, tells The Associated Press that Bales will enter the plea June 5 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Seattle. The judge and commanding general must approve a plea deal.

  The military listed Jensen Beach as the home of record for Bales, who completed a two-year associate college degree in 1992 and joined the Army in 2001, the Army said. Bales listed his home as being Jensen Beach but he grew up in Ohio and now lives in Washington. 

   A sentencing-phase trial will determine whether he is sentenced to life with or life without the possibility of parole. Browne says Bales will give his account of what happened the night of the rampage. The 39-year-old father of two from Lake Tapps, Wash., left his remote southern Afghanistan outpost early on March 11, 2012, and attacked two nearby villages.

Donna Gordon Blankinship and Dan Sewell, The Associated Press, contributed to this report.

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