Thursday, May 07, 2009

Closing arguments in the War Crimes trial

March 12, 2006, Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi's parents and five-year-old sister were murdered in their Iraqi home while Abeer was gang-raped in another room. Following the gang-rape, Abeer was murdered. Steven D. Green is said to be the murderer of all four, a gang-rapist and the ring leader who planned the entire thing.

Steven D. Green

His trial has taken place at a federal court in Kentucky. Yesterday the prosecution and defense made their closing arguments. Evan Bright is the 18-year-old high school senior who has attended and reported one every day of the trial. This is Bright reporting on Marisa Ford, of the US Attorney General's office, making her closing remarks:

She reminded the jury of Barker and Cortez raping Abeer while "Green, behind closed doors, blew Qassim Hamza's brains out with his Army supplied shotgun." According to Ford, he then took the AK47, "which was provided to the family for protection against insurgents," and used it on the mother, Fahkriyah, and their six year old daughter, Hadeel."
She went on to describe Green's sexual assault and execution style murder of Abeer, before he "burned her, beyond all recognition." At this, Green(in a blue Polo) looked down but was still listening intently. She talked about Green having had the AK47 disposed of, and his not-so-impaired judgement. "This was a crime…not committed in the chaos of battle, not committed while on an Army assigned mission, but a crime planned, and acted out in cold blood."
Marisa cattle prodded the Defense team, referring to Pat Bouldin's "dumbing things down" for the jury in his opening statement. "To 'dumb things down' for you is an insult to your intelligence," Ford told the jury, "you don't need things dumbed down to know that what Stephen Green did was wrong." Mr. Bouldin frowned as he listened. She talked about the non existent evidence that would dispute the planning of this crime(regarding the conspiracy counts). The killings were "a result of planning and deliberation," Ford intoned(referring to the four counts of pre-meditated murder). "Everything you have seen before, during, and after the crimes, all the evidence, shows pre-meditation."

We'll pick up Andrew Wolfson's "Jury deliberates fate of ex-soldier in Iraqi murders" (Courier-Journal) at Ford's close:

"American soldiers fight hard, but they fight fair, and they understand where the line is," Assistant U.S. Attorney Marisa Ford said. "This was a crime committed in cold blood."
But Green's attorney told the jury that the former soldier was suffering from extreme combat stress and should not be executed for the murders 20 miles south of Baghdad.

You really have to wonder if Green's attorneys intentionally did such an awful job. It is closing statement time and Scott Wendelsdorf is saying 'My client suffers from combat stress!' So what?

Forget the crimes committed for a moment, the defense has argued repeatedly that Green is innocent. And now, in closing, they're doing (as they did in their opening statement) offering, 'You have to remember when you take these actions into account that my client has combat stress!'

He did it or he didn't.

If they were going to argue some insanity defense, they needed an expert, not a nurse practitioner, on the witness stand.

They did an awful job. I won't be at all surprised if Green appeals should the verdict come back against him.

And you have to wonder if they did such an awful job intentionally for an appeal?

Green never took the stand by the way. That could be because they didn't find him sympathetic and worried he'd explode in the courtroom or it could be because, on appeal, they didn't want any testimony by Green that could hang over him in a later trial.

Green entered one plea and his defense argued something else. It was a lousy defense.

If you're not getting how bad the defense is, note this from UPI:

Prosecutors are seeking a conviction for premeditated capital murder. But Scott Wendelsdorf, a public defender representing Green, said the effects of combat had "broken" the soldier and therefore he should be found guilty of second-degree murder, which is not punishable by death.

Your client enters a plea of not guilty? You either dump the client or you argue the client's case as the client wants. The defense looks like a team of liars. The jury was denied Steven D. Green on the witness stand, the jury was told Green was "not guilty" and yet they had one witness after another say they saw him rape, they heard him brag, they heard the gun shots from the other room where Green was with Abeer's parents and sister, they saw him shoot Abeer, etc. Green's total official comment to the jury is "not guilty." And everything that came before them argued that wasn't the case plus the opening and the closing arguments are admitting guilt.

The defense team is admitting guilt. This is the point we were making a week ago. They're arguing 'not guilty by context.' But that's not a recognized plea (or one Green himself entered) and it's not one that the witnesses the defense team put on the stand.

Evan Bright notes that the jury adjourned at five and will resume deliberations tomorrow at nine this morning (Central Time).

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evan bright

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oh boy it never ends