(WASHINGTON) -- Just moments after allegedly murdering more than a dozen Afghan civilians in an apparent unprovoked attack, American staff sergeant Robert Bales called his wife and told her "something terrible" had happened, the wife's lawyer told ABC News on Friday.
Bales called his wife from Afghanistan apparently after he had surrendered to coalition forces there and spoke to her for about three minutes before the call was cut off, attorney Lance Rosen said.
Bales, 38, is expected to be charged Friday with 17 counts of murder, another six counts of attempted murder and six counts of aggravated assault. All of the charges are related to the 17 deaths that resulted from Bales' alleged rampage.
Military officials had previously reported that 16 civilians were killed in the Sunday attack, implying there was either an initial miscount of the dead or one of the several Afghan civilians who were wounded has died.
Bales is accused of walking off his base in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in the middle of the night Sunday and walking to nearby villages where he broke into homes and opened fire on the families inside. Afterwards, he allegedly set some of the bodies on fire. When it was over, at least three women and nine children were killed, officials said.
A high-powered civilian defense attorney for Bales, John Henry Browne, told ABC News Tuesday that Bales does not remember all of the night in question -- just the beginning and the end, but not the period during which the murders supposedly took place.
Browne said he doubts the military's version of events, said it's not supported by eyewitnesses or forensic evidence and said he had not seen any documents that suggest Bales confessed to the crime, contrary to earlier reports.
Since his arrest, ABC News has learned Bales had been accused of bilking more than $1 million from an elderly couple and was under scrutiny in a financial probe when he joined the military in 2001.
Browne has said Bales was not drunk the night of the alleged attack in Afghanistan, though military officials said alcohol was found close to his quarters.
Bales, who has a home in Washington State where his wife and children live, is now being held at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and though charges in his case will be announced by U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, U.S. officials say his military court proceedings will be held in the United States.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio