Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the US soldier who murdered 16 Afghan villagers last year, has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Robert Bales, 39, opened fire on men, children and women during the attack in Kandahar province last March.
He pleaded guilty to the massacre in June to avoid the death penalty.
Robert Bales apologized for the massacre during his sentencing hearing at a Washington state military base on Thursday, calling it an “act of cowardice”.
He had been making a case for why he should one day be eligible for parole, which would have meant he could potentially have been released in 20 years.
But on Friday the military jury of six at Joint Base Lewis-McChord ruled against him.
Robert Bales showed no emotion as the sentence was announced. His mother bowed her head, rocked in her seat and wept.
Afterwards Afghan villagers who were flown out by the US Army to attend the trial spoke to reporters.
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole
“We wanted this murderer to be executed,” one man said through an interpreter, according to local media.
“We came all the way to the US to get justice. We didn’t get that.”
Sgt. Robert Bales was serving his fourth combat deployment when he attacked two villages in the middle of the night, spraying bullets into mostly women and children.
His lawyers argued that post-traumatic stress disorder and a brain injury were factors in the killings.
Nine Afghan villagers testified at the court martial.
Among them was Haji Mohammad Wazir, who lost 11 family members, including his mother, wife and six children.
The jury returned the sentence just hours after the prosecution and defense made closing arguments.
Prosecutor Lt Colonel Jay Morse showed jurors photos of a young girl who was killed as she screamed and cried.
In his closing arguments, he showed surveillance video of Sgt. Robert Bales returning to his base with what he said was “the methodical, confident gait of a man who’s accomplished his mission”.
“In just a few short hours, Sgt Bales wiped out generations,” Jay Morse said.
“Sgt. Bales dares to ask you for mercy when he has shown none.”
Defense lawyer Emma Scanlan read a letter the soldier sent to his children 10 weeks before the killing: “The children here are a lot like you. They like to eat candy and play soccer. They all know me because I juggle rocks for them.”
She told the court: “These aren’t the words of a cold-blooded murderer.”
While Emma Scanlan said she would not try to minimize what Sgt. Robert Bales did, she asked jurors to consider his earlier military service and give him a “sliver of light” – the possibility of parole.
Senior US officials have revealed the identity of the suspect soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians in Kandahar as Staff Sgt. Robert Bales.
They named the suspect as he was heading back to the US to face charges.
Robert Bales has now arrived at a maximum security military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, after being flown from Kuwait, the US Army said.
The suspect will be held in solitary confinement pending charges, the Army added.
Sgt. Robert Bales’ lawyer, John Henry Browne, said he had been injured twice while serving in Iraq.
John Henry Browne also said the accused, aged 38, had witnessed his friend’s leg blown off the day before the killings.
That incident has not been confirmed by the US Army.
The Taliban called off peace talks in the wake of Sunday’s deadly rampage – in which men, women and children were shot and killed at close range.
The US has stressed it remained committed to Afghan reconciliation.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has also reacted angrily to the killings. He told the US it must pull back its troops from village areas and allow Afghan security forces to take the lead in an effort to reduce civilian deaths.
On Friday he said the US was not fully co-operating with a probe into the killings.
He also said the problem of civilian casualties at the hands of Nato forces had “gone on for too long”.
“This form of activity, this behaviour cannot be tolerated. It’s past, past, past the time,” Hamid Karzai said.
Shortly after Sgt. Robert Bales’ name emerged, John Henry Browne confirmed that was the name of the soldier he was representing.
Senior US officials have revealed the identity of the suspect soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians in Kandahar as Staff Sgt. Robert Bales
Images quickly emerged online from a Department of Defense website thought to show Sgt. Robert Bales on duty in Afghanistan – and identifying him in the same unit as previously revealed by military officials, part of 3rd Stryker 2nd Infantry.
The photos were soon removed from the live site but remained available to access.
Sgt. Robert Bales has not yet been charged, but is the only known suspect in the killings – despite repeated Afghan assertions that more than one American was involved.
The Pentagon has previously said that he could face charges that carry a possible death penalty.
Such a trial could take years, contrasting with Afghan demands for swift and decisive justice.
In the town of Lake Tapps, Washington state, neighbors described their surprise at Sgt. Robert Bales’ alleged crimes.
Speaking in Seattle on Thursday, where Sgt. Robert Bales is based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, John Henry Browne said his new client was a “mild-mannered” man who bore no antipathy towards Muslims.
John Henry Browne described him as “a decorated soldier” who had an exemplary record before the shooting.
The lawyer also suggested the soldier, who began his first deployment to Afghanistan in December, was not fit to serve because of injuries he had suffered on previous tours of duty.
John Henry Browne said that a car accident caused by a roadside bomb in Iraq had given the soldier a concussive head injury. Part of his foot had also been removed in surgery because of a battle-related wound, he added.
“I think it’s of interest that we have a soldier who has an exemplary record, a decorated soldier who was injured in Iraq, to his brain and to his body and then despite that was sent back,” he said.
John Henry Browne, who has represented a number of high-profile clients including serial killer Ted Bundy and a teenage thief known as the Barefoot Bandit, said his client was a happily married man with two children, aged three and four.