SEATTLE - The Army has scheduled a preliminary court hearing in September for the soldier accused of slaughtering 16 civilians during a pre-dawn rampage on two Afghan villages in March.
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales will face an Article 32 hearing on Sept. 17, Army spokesman Lt. Col. Gary Dangerfield said Wednesday. The location of the hearing has not been confirmed, but one of Bales' lawyers, Emma Scanlan, said it is expected to be held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Seattle.
Investigators say Bales, a father of two from Lake Tapps, Wash., was equipped with a 9 mm pistol and M-4 rifle outfitted with a grenade launcher when he walked off his base in southern Afghanistan March 11, attacked two local villages and burned some of the victims' bodies. He's being held in the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
Under Article 32 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, an investigating officer must determine the sufficiency of the charges against a defendant before the case can proceed to a court martial.
Bales faces 16 counts of premeditated murder; six of attempted murder; seven of assault; one of possessing steroids; one of using steroids; one of destroying a laptop computer; one of burning bodies; and one of using alcohol.
His attorneys have been reviewing 5,000 pages of discovery materials turned over by prosecutors.