The U.S. Army announced on Wednesday that it will seek the death penalty in the court martial of Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, who’s accused of killing sixteen Afghan civilians in March. Sergeant Bales has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyer says the Army knew he had PTSD and a concussive head injury, but still sent him “to one of the more intense battlegrounds of Afghanistan, on his fourth deployment.” Obtaining a death sentence would be difficult. The court-martial panel would have to come to a unanimous guilty verdict, with at least one aggravating factor that “substantially” outweighs any extenuating circumstances, and the president would have to approve the sentence. There hasn’t been a military execution since 1961.
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