Army Staff Sgt. Bales to plead guilty to Afghan massacre today

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD -- Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is to plead guilty Wednesday to the killing of 16 Afghan civilians who were shot to death in their homes outside of a U.S. army outpost last year.

Bales, 39, will enter the plea Wednesday at a military court hearing at JBLM as part of an agreement in which the government will not seek the death penalty.

The plea must be approved by the military court.  Bales' defense attorney said the agreement called for Bales to admit to the killings as charged and present a full accounting to the court of what happened on the night of March 11, 2012. Bales is accused of slipping into two villages outside Camp Belambay in southern Afghanistan and slaughtering the people inside.

A full sentencing hearing will be held in September, during which a military panel will determine whether Bales, a father of two from Lake Tapps, should be entitled to future parole. A conviction of premeditated murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.