US soldier convicted of raping and murdering Iraqi girl (14) and killing her family
A jury has convicted an ex-soldier of raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and fatally shooting her after killing her parents and younger sister.
The verdict came Thursday in a civilian Kentucky court against former Pfc. Steven Dale Green.
The 24-year-old faces a possible death sentence when the penalty phase of the trial begins Monday. Green had been discharged from the Army before he was charged in the Iraq crimes.
The verdict follows more than 10 hours of jury deliberations after a trial that began April 27.
Green's defense team had asked jurors to consider the "context" of war, saying soldiers lacked leadership and received little help from the Army to deal with the loss of friends in combat.
Green had been serving with the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq when he attacked the family.
A prosecutor on Wednesday told jurors the slaying of an Iraqi family, including a teen daughter who was raped, was premeditated and asked the panel to convict an ex-soldier of crimes that could bring him the death penalty.
"This was a crime that was committed in cold blood," Assistant U.S. Attorney Marisa Ford said in closing arguments in the federal trial of former Pfc. Steven Dale Green, 24, of Midland, Texas.
Defense attorneys argued for a conviction on lesser charges, which would eliminate the possibility of the death penalty.
Jurors began deliberating Wednesday, eight days after the trial began in U.S. District Court in western Kentucky. Jurors ended the day without a verdict and were scheduled to resume deliberations Thursday morning.
Green had pleaded not guilty to charges that he raped 14-year-old Abeer Qassim al-Janabi and shot her, her parents and younger sister to death in March 2006 in their home south of Baghdad.
Green went with three other soldiers to the home, where two of the men raped the teen while Green shot the family, Ford said. Green then raped Abeer before shooting her in the head, the prosecutor said. Multiple witnesses identified Green as the triggerman.
The soldiers decided to go to the house after the family was mentioned during a whiskey-soaked conversation about sex with Iraqi women, Ford said.
During closing arguments, Ford also rejected any claim that Green was under unusual stress from being in a war zone and losing friends in combat.
"There is nothing in everything you heard in this case that shows his thinking or judgment was impaired in any way," Ford said.
But defense attorney Scott Wendelsdorf said jurors needed to take into account Green's stress and the Army's failure to address it. Jurors heard testimony that Green had spoken before the attack about having thoughts of killing Iraqis.
"Did Steven Green uphold the honor of the Army? Hell no," Wendelsdorf said. "Did the Army do its part? I think not."
Three other soldiers who were there during the attack are serving lengthy sentences in military prison but are eligible for parole. A fourth soldier had remained behind at a nearby checkpoint and pleaded guilty to being an accessory.
Green is being tried in a civilian court because he was discharged from the Army before being charged. His trial is 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 Division.
Green was discharged from the Army in May 2006 after being diagnosed with a personality disorder.