Jury Set For Ex-Soldier's Iraq Slayings Trial

PADUCAH, Ky. (AP) - The case of a former Army soldier charged with raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and killing her and her family was ready to go to trial after a jury of 15 women and three men was seated Friday.

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 members of the military for crimes overseas.

Opening statements were scheduled to begin April 27 in federal court in Paducah, following a break.

Attorneys selected the jury from a pool of 80 prospective candidates to hear 17 counts including murder and rape against the Midland, Texas, man. He is being tried in Paducah as he was last stationed at Fort Campbell on the Kentucky-Tennessee border.

Diagnosed with an anti-social personality disorder, Green was discharged from the Fort Campbell-based 101st Airborne Division two
months after the alleged attack, which occurred in March 2006.

Prosecutors say he took part in the rape and murder of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim al-Janabi and the shooting deaths of her family in Mahmoudiya, Iraq.

Green, who is accused by prosecutors of being a central figure in the rape and killings, has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors say they'll ask for a death sentence if Green is convicted.

U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell had to arrange the trial schedule around the 25th annual American Quilter's Society show in Paducah, an event that draws thousands and fills hotel rooms that were needed for trial lawyers and witnesses.

Testimony is expected to include four soldiers who were with Green's unit in the 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment. Three of those soldiers have pleaded guilty at courts-martial to having roles in the attack and a fourth was convicted.

Those soldiers received sentences ranging from five years to 110 years for what authorities described as their roles in targeting the girl from a checkpoint near a village 20 miles south of Baghdad.

Prosecutors listed nearly a half-dozen members of the al-Janabi family as potential witnesses. They will have a court-certified interpreter who will also be available to the defense for witness interviews, Assistant U.S. Attorney Marisa Ford said.

Defense attorney Scott Wendelsdorf said plans to have the court's interpreter for the Iraqi witnesses also work for prosecutors could pose a problem.

"It runs the risk of the interpreter developing inappropriate ties with the witnesses and the prosecution," he said. "I don't think it's insurmountable, though."

The judge said the interpreter is certified by the federal court system and will take an oath before translating any testimony, so there shouldn't be any issues.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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