Staff Sgt. Robert Bales faces fewer murder charges in Afghan shooting rampage; Steroid charge added

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales participates in an exercise at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., Aug. 23, 2011, in this Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System picture. AP Photo/DVIDS

(AP) SEATTLE - The Army dropped a murder charge, but added others, including steroid use, against a soldier accused in a deadly shooting rampage in Afghanistan, his lawyer said Friday.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is now accused of gunning down 16 civilians — instead of 17 — in a pre-dawn raid on two Afghan villages in March.

Bales attorney Emma Scanlan said she received the new charges Friday and that there was nothing surprising in them. There had been talk for some time that the number of victims in the massacre had been over-counted.

"We're looking forward to putting on a defense and seeing what they can prove," Scanlan said. Scanlan also said the Army dropped off 5,000 pages of discovery materials at her office on Friday.

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Bales now 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.

"At some point, steroid use could become an issue in this case, and where he got it could become an issue in this case," said Bales' other lawyer, John Henry Browne. He declined to comment further.

Bales, a father of two from Lake Tapps, Wash., is accused of walking off the base where he was deployed in southern Afghanistan with a 9 mm pistol and M-4 rifle outfitted with a grenade launcher.

Officials say he walked to two local villages, where he killed the villagers and then burned some of their bodies.

Bales is based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, but is being held at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

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