Sgt. Robert Bales, a U.S. soldier who was accused of murdering 16 unarmed Afghan civilians last year, was sentenced to life in prison without a chance of parole on Friday.
The jury of six military personnel were deciding if Bales would spend the rest of his life in prison, or would be eligible for parole after serving 20 years.
The unarmed civilians were mostly women and children. Bales was on his fourth deployment when he left his outpost in the middle of the night "armed with a pistol, a rifle and a grenade launcher" to attack the family compounds. When he returned, Bales told a fellow soldier, "I just shot up some people."
Bales' defense attorneys said the soldier suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and a brain injury that could have led to the brutal attacks. Defense attorney Emma Scanlan clarified that in seeking the possibility of parole for Bales, she was "not asking you to set him free."
When Bales took the witness stand, he apologized for the massacre describing it as an "act of cowardice."
Officials are calling this tragedy "one of the worst atrocities of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars."