Ex-soldier convicted in Iraq rape, 4 slayings

PADUCAH, Ky. (AP) - A federal jury convicted a former soldier
Thursday of raping and fatally shooting a 14-year-old girl after
killing her parents and younger sister while he was serving in
Iraq.

Pfc. Steven Dale Green faces a possible death sentence when the
penalty phase of his trial opens Monday in the unusual case of a
crime in a war zone being prosecuted in civilian court.

Green, 24, of Midland, Texas, was being tried in federal court
because he had been discharged from the Army for a personality
disorder before he was charged with the Iraq crimes. Green stared
straight ahead as the verdict was read in U.S. District Court in
western Kentucky.

Defense attorney Darren Wolff, speaking afterward, said the
defense never denied Green's involvement.

"Is this verdict a surprise to us? No. The goal has always been
to save our client's life," Wolff said. "And, now we're going to
go to the most important phase, which is the sentencing phase and
we're going to accomplish that goal."

The lead prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Marisa Ford,
declined comment.

The trial began April 27, and jurors deliberated for more than
10 hours beginning Wednesday before finding Green guilty. Jurors
didn't look at Green as they entered the courtroom before the
verdict was read.

Green's defense team had asked them to consider the "context"
of war, saying soldiers in Green's unit of the 101st Airborne
Division lacked leadership. Defense attorneys also said the Army
missed signs that Green was struggling after the loss of friends in
combat and that it offered little help to him and other soldiers in
his unit.

The prosecution rested six days into the trial after presenting
witnesses who said Green confessed to the crimes and others who put
him at the home of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim al-Janabi, heard him
shoot her family and saw him rape and shoot the girl.

During opening arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Skaret
said Green talked frequently of wanting to kill Iraqis, but when
pressed, would tell people he wasn't serious. In the weeks before
the attack on the family, several soldiers from Green's unit were
killed in combat.

In closing arguments, Ford said the March 12, 2006, crime was
planned and premeditated. "This was a crime that was committed in
cold blood," she said.

Prosecutors told jurors that the plot against the family was
hatched among Green and fellow soldiers who were 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.

Three other soldiers are serving time in military prison for
their roles in the attack, and testified against Green at his
trial.

Green's father, John Green, declined to comment on the verdict.
But he told The Associated Press that he may testify during the
penalty phase of the trial.

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


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