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So Steven D. Green who was convicted three Thursdays ago in the gang-rape of 14-year-old Iraqi Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, her murder, the murder of her five-year-old sister and the murders of both of her parents. Yesterday the jury returned the sentence. He'll spend life in prison, he did not receive the death penalty.
Evan Bright notes:
The jury deliberated for a total of ten hours and twenty minutes. While waiting for the jury, Jim Lesousky(P) was seen, hands clasped, as if in prayer. Scott Wendelsdorf(D) was pacing around the defense table, anxious and apprehensive. His hands were shaking as he took his seat. Green, appearing in the same maroon sweater vest as before, appeared surprisingly calm, his breathing steady; the exact same calm-cool-collected look could also be seen on Green’s father John and uncle David, present in court. Pat Bouldin(D) twiddled his thumbs with his head down, knowing that this was the moment they’d spent the past two and a half years preparing for.
The jury entered, looking quite stern. Two juror’s lips were near quivering. The members of the defense team looked down, while the prosecution eyed the flock of jurors for the last time. After reviewing the verdict forms, Judge Russell announced that the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict, giving Green life in prison without possibility of parole.
Sentencing will be September 4th. Green may or may not appeal. If he does decide to appeal, he'll have strong grounds for it because the inept defense can't stop talking to the press about how they threw the trial and saved it up for the sentencing. That's okay . . . if that's what the client wants. Green entered a not guilty plea. Green wanted to argue not guilty. His defense team overrode him. They did not present a case for him being not guilty to the jury during the trial. They spent more time calling witnesses for the sentencing than they did for the actual trial.
There are some who are upset Green didn't get the death penalty and there are some who are seeing life in prison as a win. Reality, Green may appeal. If he does, he has strong grounds for an appeal. He has strong grounds to bring an official complaint against his court-appointed attorneys who did not present the case he wanted during the trial.
Steven D. Green was found guilty on all counts. I believe he is guilty. I'm not arguing or advocating, "Let Little Stevie out of prison!" I am saying don't be so quick to think this is over.
The defense disregarded their client. The defense then bragged to the press repeatedly -- press that the jury wasn't supposed to be reading so it can't be written off as an attempt to sway the jury -- that they basically tossed the trial and focused on the hearing.
That may or may not have been the best legal strategy. It is not, however, what their client wants. An attorney represents a client. If a lawyer can't do that -- court appointed or not -- the lawyer removes her/his self from the case. Even if you're court-appointed, you can do that.
The defense ignored Green's desires and this was Green's trial. He -- and any other person tried in the US -- is entitled to present their defense when accused. It's his right, it's everyone's right. But that didn't happen. His attorneys overrode what he wanted.
So where ever you are on the verdict (or if you're like Gina and just glad that it's finally over), you need to realize it may not be over. The appeals process may be the next avenue and, if that does happen, Green could end up walking. In a way, he now deserves to. His court appointed attorneys ignored him, disregarded his plea and did not present a case that argued not guilty.
I think Green's guilty and I believe he'll be haunted by his actions forever. That said, if I was on a jury where he was appealing, I would vote to let him off. Why? The process was abused.
It is hilarious when you grasp that the defense argued that Green was repeatedly failed by various institutions (including familial and governmental); however, the ones who refused to argue Green's case was the defense. The defense failed their client. You do not have the choice of overriding your client's wishes even if you fear not doing so will result in the death penalty.
As it stands, it's obvious that arguing Green's defense -- the one he wanted -- would not have done any damage. The jury convicted him on every count. Every count. There's no way that arguing during the trial phase that Green was innocent (a position he maintained and he entered a plea of not guilty) could have done any worse.
The defense verbally argued the entire system failed Green. With their actions, the defense failed him.
This is a huge topic to this community and it's all the e-mails this morning are about. We will cover it more in depth in the snapshot today. I do want to make a point right now though to note James Dao's "Ex-Soldier Gets Life Sentence for Iraq Murders" (New York Times) which is a remarkable improvement over yesterday's report. One example of how steady his hand is today (as opposed to yesterday) can be found in this paragraph:
At least four other soldiers have pleaded guilty or were convicted in military courts for their roles in the rape and murders. While most received long prison terms, none are facing the death penalty, and all will be eligible for parole in 10 years or less.
One of the few to grasp the difference. It really is a solid report and we'll try to go into that in the snapshot today but Dao's done a strong report and he deserves credit for it.
Andrew Wolfson (Courier-Journal -- link has a video option as well) observes, "Green broke into a slight smile when the verdict was announced." CNN notes:
During the trial, relatives of the murder victims gave gripping testimony about how the crimes still haunt them. Some family members said their lives have been ruined and it would have been better if they'd also been killed.
Doug Green offered an apology.
"Our hearts and prayers are with you. We're sorry. We're sorry," he said. "This has been hard for everybody involved. Not just my family, but the Iraqis. Everybody is going to need some healing."
Alsumaria notes, "Green acknowledged the 17 charges addressed to him including rape, murder and judicial obstruction. The former soldier is accused of heading a gang who committed a crime in March 2006 in southern Baghdad.
Similarly, three other soldiers appeared before a field court and were sentenced to life prison while another soldier charged of guarding the prison was sentenced to 2 years and three months in jail." Habib al-Zubaidy (Reuters) reports Iraqi reaction to the life sentence:
"What the American soldier did is a terrorist act and he deserves execution," said Ahmed Samir Jaber, 27, a mechanic, from underneath the bonnet of an old car he was fixing in Mahmudiya, a dusty trading town on the edge of the desert.
"The court has not delivered justice. If I killed an American girl, the American court would have executed me."
UPI covers it here and this is the US Justice Dept press release on yesterday's events:
Former Ft. Campbell Soldier Convicted on Charges Related to Deaths of Iraqi Civilians
WASHINGTON -- A federal jury that convicted Steven D. Green, a former Ft. Campbell, Ky., soldier of charges arising out of the rape of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the murder of the girl and her family today said it was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on whether the defendant should be sentenced to death. Because the jury did not unanimously reach a decision on the death penalty, U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell will sentence Green to life without parole, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Candace G. Hill of the Western District of Kentucky announced.
Judge Russell is scheduled to formally sentence Green on September 4, 2009.
Green, 24, was convicted by the federal jury on May 7, 2009, in Louisville, Ky., on all charged counts, including premeditated murder, aggravated sexual abuse, felony murder, conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit aggravated sexual abuse, use of firearms during the commission of violent crimes and obstruction of justice. Green was indicted by a federal grand jury on Nov. 2, 2006.
Green was charged with the crimes following an incident that occurred on March 12, 2006, in and around Mahmoudiyah, Iraq. According to evidence presented at trial, while manning a military checkpoint, Green and other fellow soldiers discussed raping and killing Iraqis. Trial evidence showed that Green and others then took off their uniforms, put on black clothing, left their post and forced their way into the nearby home of the Al-Janabi family. Evidence presented at trial proved that Green then took the mother, father and six-year-old into a bedroom where he shot and killed them. In the living room, Green and the other soldiers raped the 14-year-old and then Green repeatedly shot her in the face and set her body on fire. Green then tried to blow up the house, according to trial evidence, after which the soldiers returned to their checkpoint. After committing the rape and murders, trial testimony revealed that Green bragged to others that the experience was "awesome."
Green was discharged from the U.S. Army in May 2006 and was prosecuted in U.S. District Court under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA), a statute that gives U.S. courts jurisdiction to prosecute crimes committed outside the United States by, among others, persons who served with the armed forces but who are no longer subject to military prosecution. Green’s co-conspirators were prosecuted by military authorities under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Green, formerly stationed at Ft. Campbell and deployed to Iraq while serving with the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army, was arrested by the FBI on June 30, 2006, on federal charges of murder and rape based on MEJA.
The case was investigated by the FBI and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marisa Ford and Jim Lesousky of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Kentucky and Trial Attorney Brian Skaret of the Criminal Division’s Domestic Security Section.
On Democracy Now! today, Vincent Warren whores himself out and, sadly, the Center for Constitutional Rights with him. I think the Center's going to find it very difficult to raise money and they have the little butt smoocher Vinnie Warren to blame for it. I'm tired of defending the Center and I've done that for three or four months now.
And here's the Center's first clue for how they bring the problems on themselves: Participating as the Center in a meeting and making it off the record. That's not allowed. That's disgusting. It's time for Vinnie to go. It's time for that little ass kiss, that little apologist, to go. And you better believe as the funds continue to dry up for the Center, that nothing less than Vinnie leaving will satisfy those who are outraged by the Center's continued caving. And to repeat, I'm not running interference anymore. When the calls come in from now on and they say, "I don't want to give to the Center," I'm not doing a spiel for it. My response will be, "I don't blame you. Let's find a better cause to donate to."
Vinnie met with the White House in his CCR role. He is not allowed to promise to keep that secret. CCR is all about calling out government secrecy. Vinnie's brought shame to the organization and it will not easily wash away.
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