Preliminary hearing to end for US soldier

By RACHEL LA CORTE

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. (AP) — Attorneys will wrap up a preliminary hearing against Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who is accused of massacring 16 Afghan villagers during a predawn rampage earlier this year.

Closing arguments from Army prosecutors and Bales' attorneys will be made Tuesday. In the coming weeks, the investigating officer, Col. Lee Deneke, (deh-neh-KEE) will decide whether to recommend court-martial, with the ultimate decision to be made by Bales' brigade command. Bales, a 39-year-old father of two from Lake Tapps, Wash., could face the death penalty.

If a court-martial takes place, it will be held at the Washington state base south of Seattle.

The preliminary hearing, known as an Article 32, included testimony from fellow soldiers who say Bales returned to the base after the March killings covered in blood, as well as Afghan witnesses, including children, who testified via video from Afghanistan.

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