Robert Bales Gets Life Without Parole for Afghan Massacre

PHOTO: Courtroom sketch of Army Sgt. Robert Bales
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Staff Sgt. Robert Bales will have no chance at parole as he spends the rest of his life in prison for the murder of 16 Afghan civilians last year, a jury decided today.

Bales was sentenced to life in prison without release by a jury at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Fort Lewis, Wash., according to the Associated Press.

Bales, 39, pleaded guilty to the murders in June and confessed to the crimes in order to avoid the death penalty.

The U.S. Army soldier spoke to the jury Thursday, calling the massacre an "act of cowardice" and asking jury members for leniency in his sentence.

Bales said he conducted the March 2012 late-night attack in which he slaughtered men, women and children "behind a mask of fear ... and bravado."

"I'm truly, truly sorry to those people whose families got taken away," he said.

Defense lawyers tried to depict Bales as a loving father affected by post-traumatic stress disorder after multiple tours in Afghanistan, and a traumatic head injury. The soldier's brother, and an old friend, former pro footballer Marc Edwards, testified on his behalf.

"There's no better father that I've seen," William Bales, 55, said of his younger brother. "If you brought the kids in here today, they'd run right to him."

"I'm truly, truly sorry to those people whose families got taken away."

Bales has never denied leaving Camp Belambay in Kandahar province and walking by himself to two neighboring villages where he fired on locals with a 9mm pistol and an M4 rifle.

When the judge, Col. Jeffery Nance, asked Bales why he carried out the rampage, Bales said: "I've asked that question a million times, and there is not a good reason in the world for the horrible things I did."

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