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Psychiatric Evaluation Ordered for Soldier in Afghan Civilian Murder Spree

US Army(SEATTLE) -- The likelihood that an Army staff sergeant will go on trial for murdering Afghan civilians this year is in doubt now that Robert Bales has been ordered to undergo an official sanity review.

Bales, who is being held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Seattle, can't have his lawyers present a mental health defense until he's had the psychiatric evaluation.

This will certainly push back any chance of his trial starting sometime in 2013 as his lawyers already have to pore over thousands of documents that detail the Army's charges that Bales killed 16 civilians after allegedly sneaking off his base in Afghanistan twice in the same night last March.

Bales' mental health review is expected to be conducted by health experts not chosen by either the prosecution or defense so as to produce a neutral result.

It had already been ascertained that the sergeant's mental health at the time of the alleged shooting would be a central part of the defense's argument since it was previously reported that Bales may have suffered from a traumatic head injury.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio