Army soldier admits killing 9 children, 16 people overall



JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Staff Sgt. Robert Bales has entered a guilty plea to all charges of murdering 16 civilians, including nine children.  

 He also faces six counts of attempted murder, assault charges, possession and use of steroids, using alcohol in Afghanistan, and charges of bringing discredit to the military by burning bodies.  Bales pleaded guilty to those charges as well.

 Bales pleaded not guilty Wednesday morning to one charge that alleged he damaged a computer to impede the investigation.  

 The soldier pleaded guilty to the murders to avoid the death penalty.  

The judge, Col. Jeffery Nance, questioned Bales extensively to ensure he understood the crimes he said he is guilty of committing before accepting  his pleas.

>>> KIRO 7’s Richard Thompson is at Joint Base Lewis McChord getting the latest on the Bales case. Stay with for continuing coverage and watch the latest on our 5 p.m. newscast.

>>> Click here to see photos from the Robert Bales case.

Bales then went through each charge with the judge.

"I killed him.  This act was without legal justification," Bales read, moving quickly through the list of victims.  "I killed her with a firearm and burned her," he said of another victim.

Bales was charged in the March 2012 attacks on two villages near the remote base in southern Afghanistan where he was posted. Most of the victims were women and children, and some of the bodies were burned.

The victims of attempted murder include four children -- two boys and two girls.

Bales sat in the courtroom with his hands clasped, looking at Nance and then looking down as he listened to the judge describe the attempts to murder children.

Bales' guilty pleas were accepted and the death penalty is off the table.   Another hearing in August will determine if he is sentenced to life in prison with or without parole.

Bales appeared with his attorneys Emma Scanlan and John Henry Browne.  Browne is a well-known Seattle-area lawyer whose clients have included serial killer Ted Bundy and Colton Harris-Moore.

Prosecutor: Bales had blood of victims on him (Nov. 5, 2012)

Wife of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales' statement (March 19, 2012)

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales to undergo sanity review (March 17, 2013)

Soldier charged with killing 16 Afghan villagers agrees to plead guilty to avoid death penalty (May 29, 2013)