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It's 'Unbelievable To Me,' Says Wife Of Army Sgt. Accused In Afghan Killings

Saying that her husband "loves children, he's like a big kid himself," the wife of the U.S. Army soldier accused of killing 17 Afghan civilians on March 11 has told NBC News that the accusations against Staff Sgt. Robert Bales are "unbelievable to me."

"I have no idea what happened, but he would not ... he loves children, and he would not do that," said Karilyn Bales.

Part of her conversation with NBC's Matt Lauer aired on Sunday's NBC Nightly News. More is due to be aired on this morning's The Today Show.

Update at 7:15 a.m. ET: Karilyn Bales also told Lauer that "I just don't think he was involved." MSNBC reports that "when asked by Lauer if it was a case of mistaken identity, she said: 'I don't have enough information. This is not him.' "

Our original post continues:

In related news, The New York Times is reporting that the 17th fatality was "the unborn baby of one of the victims ... according to Afghan officials."

As we reported on Friday, after saying for nearly two weeks that there had been 16 deaths, Army officials increased the number late last week without explaining why.

Also, there's word this morning that "the U.S. paid $50,000 in compensation for each villager killed and $11,000 for each person wounded in a shooting rampage allegedly carried out by a rogue American soldier in southern Afghanistan, Afghan officials said Sunday." The Associated Press adds that "the families were told that the money came from President Obama. The unusually large payouts were the latest move by the White House to mend relations with the Afghan people after the killings threatened to shatter already tense relations."

On Friday, the 38-year-old Staff Sgt. Bales was charged with 17 counts of murder and six counts each of attempted murder and assault. He is now being held at Ft. Leavenworth in Kansas and could face the death penalty if convicted. Investigators now believe he "split the slaughter into two episodes, returning to his base after the first attack and later slipping away to kill again, two American officials said Saturday," according to the AP.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.