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UPDATE: Sergeant Bales Charged with Murder in Afghan Killings

Ft. Leavenworth Sign-croppedSgt. Robert Bales is being housed in a special, pre-trial holding facility at Ft. Leavenworth. (Photo by J. Schafer)

UPDATE: Sgt. Robert Bales has now been charged with 17 counts of murder.

FT. LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A U.S. official says Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales will be charged with 17 counts of murder in the massacre of Afghan villagers.  The official says charges against Bales also include six counts of attempted murder and six counts of aggravated assault and other violations of military law. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the charges had not been announced.  The 38-year-old soldier allegedly gunned down nine Afghan children and eight adults as they slept in their homes in two southern Afghanistan villages.

The civilian attorney for Bales says his client has memory problems that pre-date the March 11 shootings.  John Henry Browne told CBS TV that he spent 11 hours this week with Bales, who's in detention at Fort Leavenworth.  Bales is expected to be formally presented today (FRI) with charges including 17 counts of murder as well as a string of other offenses.  Browne said Bales had earlier suffered a "serious" concussion, and that it was not treated "for a variety of reasons," which Browne did not explain.  Browne said his reaction to the government's allegations is: "Prove it." And he said he believes the government will have difficulty proving its case against Bales.  He said "there is no crime scene" and a lack of important physical evidence like fingerprints.

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