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An American soldier charged with murdering 16 Afghan civilians is expected to publicly give his account of the massacre for the first time in a court hearing today. He will plead guilty to avoid the death penalty.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales has been charged with 16 counts of premeditated murder, six counts of attempted murder and seven counts of assault.

The charges stem from a horrific event in March 2012 when Bales allegedly snuck out of his remote outpost in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar to go on a shooting spree in two nearby villages. The pre-dawn attack left 16 villagers dead and six injured. Nine of those killed were children.

For more information, please visit abcnews.go.com.

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