[Updated at 3:26 p.m. ET] Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales could be sentenced to death if convicted on any of the 17 counts of murder filed against him Friday for allegedly embarking on a bloody shooting rampage in Afghan villages, the U.S. military said.
In addition to the charges accusing him of murder "with premeditation," the 38-year-old faces six counts of assault and attempted murder.
Authorities say Bales left a remote outpost in Kandahar province's Panjwai district early March 11 and went house-to-house, gunning down villagers.
U.S. and Afghan officials initially said 16 people, including nine children, died in those attacks. The counts indicate that one more person died, though Afghan government officials in Kabul have they have no record of another death.
Col. Gary Kolb, a spokesman with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, said only that the investigators assigned to the case felt they had enough evidence to charge Bales with 17 counts of murder. There was no indication as to where the other fatality came from, though it was not related to a pregnant woman, as has been rumored.FULL STORY