PADUCAH, Ky. (AP) - A former soldier on trial for the rape and murder of an Iraqi teenager and the shotgun deaths of her family told others he would take full blame for the attacks if necessary, a one-time private said Friday.
Bryan Howard, a former private first class in the 101st Airborne Division, told jurors on Friday that defendant Steven Dale Green offered to take the blame for the slayings if they were traced back to American soldiers.
"I remember him saying just blame it on him," said Howard, who pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and being an accessory after the fact to the March 12, 2006, attack on the al-Janabi family. He testified Friday that he remained at a checkpoint while other soldiers went to the home of the family that was attacked.
Howard's testimony came on the fifth day of Green's federal trial on charges that he raped 14-year-old Abeer Qassim al-Janabi and killed her and her family near Mahmoudiya, Iraq, south of Baghdad. Federal prosecutors say Green was the third soldier to rape Abeer, then shot her in the head just after killing her mother, father and younger sister.
Green is the one accused of actually shooting the family, though other soldiers pleaded guilty to or were convicted of murder charges for their roles.
Green, 23, from Midland, Texas, has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Prosecutors say they'll ask the jury for a death sentence if Green is convicted. He is being tried in civilian court because he was discharged from the Army before charges were brought in the case.