Tuesday, April 28, 2009

UPDATED :: Pfc. Steven Green sentenced to life for Iraq War Atrocities

alt=PADUCAH, Ky. — An ex-soldier convicted of raping and killing an Iraqi teen and murdering her family was spared the death penalty Thursday after jurors couldn't agree on a punishment for the brutal crime.

Steven Dale Green, 24, of Midland, Texas, will instead serve a life sentence in a case that has drawn attention to the emotional and psychological strains on soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In March 2006, after an afternoon of card playing, sex talk and drinking Iraqi whiskey, Pfc. Green and three other soldiers went to the home of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim al-Janabi near Mahmoudiya, about 20 miles south of Baghdad. Green shot and killed the teen's mother, father and sister, then became the third soldier to rape the girl before shooting her in the face.

Federal jurors who convicted Green of rape and murder on May 7 told the judge they couldn't agree on the appropriate sentence after deliberating for more than 10 hours over two days. Their choices were a death sentence or life in prison without parole. Since they could not unanimously agree on either sentence, life in prison had to be the verdict.

"It's the better of two bad choices," said his father, John Green, who sighed as the verdict was read.

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Steven Green pleads not guilty to Iraq War Atrocities

Accursed of rape and slaughter while a US soldier Steven Dale Green goes on trial in civilian court.


PADUCAH, Ky. (AP) Steven Dale Green, 23, of Midland, Texas, has pleaded not guilty to more than a dozen charges, including sexual assault and four counts of murder, stemming from the March 2006 attack in Iraq's so-called "Triangle of Death." He is being tried in federal court in connection with the girl's rape and killing and the deaths of her mother, father and a 6-year-old sister.

Steven D. Green could get the death penalty if convicted in the horrific crime that has strained the U.S. military's already troubled relations with the Iraqi people and sent shockwaves around the world.

Former Pfc. Steven Dale Green, 23, is the first ex-soldier to be charged as a civilian under a 2000 law that allows U.S. authorities to prosecute former

Background - Mahmudiya, March 12th, 2006

“Fifteen-year-old Abeer Qasim Hamza was afraid, her mother confided in a neighbor. As pretty as she was young, the girl had attracted the unwelcome attention of U.S. soldiers manning a checkpoint that the girl had to pass through almost daily in their village in the south-central city of Mahmudiyah, her mother told the neighbor.

“Abeer told her mother again and again in her last days that the soldiers had made advances toward her, a neighbor, Omar Janabi, said this weekend, recounting a conversation he said he had with the girl’s mother, Fakhriyah, on March 10. Fakhriyah feared that the Americans might come for her daughter at night, at their home. She asked her neighbor if Abeer might sleep at his house, with the women there. Janabi said he agreed. Then, ‘I tried to reassure her, remove some of her fear,’ Janabi said. ‘I told her, the Americans would not do such a thing.’

“Abeer did not live to take up the offer of shelter. Instead, attackers came to the girl’s house the next day, apparently separating Abeer from her mother, father and young sister. Janabi and others knowledgeable about the incident said they believed that the attackers raped Abeer in another room. Medical officials who handled the bodies also said the girl had been raped, but they did not elaborate. Before leaving, the attackers fatally shot the four family members - two of Abeer’s brothers had been away at school - and attempted to set Abeer’s body on fire, according to Janabi, another neighbor who spoke on condition of anonymity, the mayor of Mahmudiyah and a hospital administrator with knowledge of the case. […]”Excerpt from an article by the Washington Post from July 3rd, 2006.

Steven Dale Green grew up in the west Texas oil town of Midland
Col. Todd Ebel told jurors on Monday, the opening day of trial, that he spoke with Steven Dale Green in December 2005 about losing soldiers to enemy attacks. But, Ebel said, beyond frustration, the private first class with the 101st Airborne Division didn't appear unfit to remain in the Army.

"Yes, he was frustrated with Iraqis," Ebel said. "Mostly, he was frustrated with the idea that we can't recognize them. They don't wear uniforms."

Ebel, who oversaw Green's unit, resumed his testimony Tuesday, telling jurors that the soldiers were in a violent area of Iraq. He said his brigade, which included Green, lost 46 soldiers in combat-related deaths during its yearlong deployment.

Prosecutors said in opening statements that Green and three other soldiers attacked the family at their home near Mahmoudiyah, Iraq, about 20 miles south of Baghdad. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Skaret said Green fatally shot the rest of the family before becoming the third soldier to rape the teenager.

After he shot the girl in the face several times, Green used kerosene to set fire to her body, Skaret said.

"They left behind the carnage of all carnage," Skaret said.

Skaret told jurors that a group of soldiers, including Green, was playing cards and drinking whiskey at a checkpoint. Talk turned to having sex with Iraqi women, when one soldier mentioned the al-Janabi family, who lived nearby, Skaret said.

Skaret said Green used a shotgun to kill the three family members in a room and told the soldiers that the family was dead.

He then raped the girl and shot her, according to Skaret. Later, Green would talk about the killings to superior officers, other soldiers and even civilian friends, Skaret said.

In Green's defense, attorney Patrick Bouldin painted a picture of young soldiers in harsh wartime conditions, lacking leadership and receiving little help from the Army to deal with the loss of their friends.

Bouldin said before the attack, Green had lost five colleagues in combat, including four in a short span.

He said soldiers had lost so many friends and leaders they could no longer perform their duties.

"Context," Bouldin said. "You've got to understand the context."

Civilian Court

Green is being tried in a civilian court because he was discharged from the Army before being charged. His trial is being held in Paducah because of the western Kentucky city's proximity to Fort Campbell on the Kentucky-Tennessee border, where Green was based with the 101st Airborne.


Other soldiers involved in the attack were prosecuted in military court, including two who pleaded guilty and acknowledged taking part in the rape. Prosecutors said a third who was convicted had gone to the family's home knowing what was planned. A fourth who stayed behind at the checkpoint pleaded guilty to being an accessory, they said.


Green's discharge papers show he received an honorable discharge in May 2006 after being diagnosed with a personality disorder.

Bouldin said Green was prescribed a mood-stabilizing drug, but the Army never followed up on his mental state before the attack.

"He told the psychologist, 'I'm so upset. I'm having trouble here. I want to kill all these guys (Iraqis) because I can't tell them apart,'" Bouldin said.

Steven Green - The Accused


“’I came over here because I wanted to kill people.’ - Over a mess-tent dinner of turkey cutlets, the bony-faced 21-year-old private from West Texas looked right at me as he talked about killing Iraqis with casual indifference. […] ‘The truth is, it wasn’t all I thought it was cracked up to be. I mean, I thought killing somebody would be this life-changing experience. And then I did it, and I was like, ‘All right, whatever.’ He shrugged. ‘I shot a guy who wouldn’t stop when we were out at a traffic checkpoint and it was like nothing,’ he went on. ‘Over here, killing people is like squashing an ant. I mean, you kill somebody and it's like ‘All right, let’s go get some pizza.’

“[... T]he private was Steven D. Green. The next time I saw him, in a front-page newspaper photograph five months later, he was standing outside a federal courthouse in North Carolina, where he had pled not guilty to charges of premeditated rape and murder. The brutal killing of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and her family in Mahmudiyah that he was accused of had taken place just three weeks after we talked. […]”Excerpt from an Washington Post article, July 30th, 2006.

Troops ‘Took Turns’ to Rape Iraqi

BBC News August 7, 2006

A US military hearing has examined testimony of how three soldiers took it in turns to try to rape an Iraqi girl aged 14 in Mahmudiya in March.

The girl and three family members were allegedly killed by four US soldiers.

Graphic details of the attack at the family's home came in a sworn statement by one of the accused, James P Barker.

Along with Sergeant Paul Cortez, Private Jesse Spielman, and Private Bryan Howard, Specialist Barker is charged with rape and murder.

The four are alleged to have helped a former private - Steven Green, who has since left the army - plan, carry out and cover up the attack. Mr Green has pleaded not guilty in a federal court and will be tried separately in the US.

A fifth soldier is alleged to have lied to cover up for his colleagues.

‘Whisky and golf’

Investigator Benjamin Bierce interviewed Mr Barker, 23, on 30 June and took down his statement, he told the hearing at a US military base in Baghdad.

On the day of the attack the soldiers had been drinking Iraqi whisky mixed with an energy drink and practicing golf strokes at a checkpoint south of Baghdad, Mr Barker's statement said.

One of the soldiers, Steven Green, said he "wanted to go to a house and kill some Iraqis," it alleged.

The four eventually went to a house about 200 metres (yards) away and put the parents and their five-year old daughter in the bedroom, but kept the older girl in the living room.

According to Mr Barker's statement, he and Mr Cortez took it in turns to rape or attempt to rape her.

Steven Green Iraq Murder

Mr Barker heard shots from the bedroom, and Steven Green emerged with an AK-47 in his hand saying "They're all dead. I just killed them."

According to the testimony, Mr Green then also raped the girl and shot her dead.

Her body was doused in kerosene and set alight.

The first day of the hearing on Sunday saw an Iraqi army medic describe how he found the bodies of the four Iraqis.

He told prosecutors he was ill for weeks after witnessing the crime scene.

BBC Baghdad correspondent Jane Peel says the Mahmudiya attack is one of the worst in a series of alleged atrocities committed by US troops in Iraq.

When news of it emerged last month it caused outrage and led to calls for changes in the agreement that exempts American soldiers from prosecution in the Iraqi courts.


The few details known of the 21-year-old's life are as unremarkable as the tired expression he wore in news photos showing him being led into a court this week wearing baggy shorts, flip-flops and a Johnny Cash T-shirt.

Steven Dale Green grew up in the west Texas oil town of Midland, which claims both President Bush and his wife, Laura, as natives. His parents divorced when he was 4, and his mother remarried four years later.

Midland school officials said Green attended classes from 1990 to 2002 but only made it through 10th grade, suggesting he might have been held back at least once. They would not specify.


His upbringing was not without complications. Green's mother pleaded no contest in 2000 to a drunken driving charge and was jailed for six months.

After dropping out, Green moved about 80 miles north to Denver City, the former oil town along the New Mexico state line that is listed as his official hometown. He got his high school equivalency degree in 2003.

According to a report in the Midland Reporter-Telegram, Green was arrested for misdemeanor possession of alcohol on Jan. 31, 2005. Days later, just a few months shy of his 20th birthday, he enlisted in the Army.

He was deployed to Iraq from September 2005 to April 2006 as an infantry soldier in B Company, 1st Battalion of the 502nd Infantry Regiment, which is part of the 101st Airborne Division, based at Fort Campbell, Ky.

It was there that he was sent to patrol the so-called "Triangle of Death," an area southwest of Baghdad known for its frequent roadside bombings. Military officials say more than 40 percent of the nearly 1,000 soldiers in the region have been treated for mental or emotional anxiety. Green was apparently one of them.

He was given a discharge on May 16 for what military officials in Iraq told The Associated Press was an "anti-social personality disorder." The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.

A psychiatric condition, anti-social personality disorder is defined as chronic behavior that manipulates, exploits, or violates the rights of others. Someone with the disorder may break the law repeatedly, lie, get in fights and show a lack of remorse.

Military officials said the accusations of Green's involvment in the rape and killings came to light more than a month later during a session to counsel soldiers about the June 16 abductions of two fellow soldiers who were killed, and reportedly mutilated, by insurgents.

See also: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/14/us/14private.html

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