Convicted Ex-Solider Spared Death Penalty

Steven Green's booking photo, former US Army soldier charged with murder and rape in alleged incident in Mahmudiyah, Iraq, 2006/7/3. AP/Mecklenburg Co. Sheriffs Office

An ex-soldier convicted of raping and killing an Iraqi teen and murdering her family was spared the death penalty Thursday and will serve a life sentence after jurors couldn't agree unanimously on a punishment.

Former Pfc. Steven Dale Green of Midland, Texas, will be formally sentenced Sept. 4 by U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell. Jurors who convicted Green on May 7 told Russell they couldn't agree on the appropriate sentence after deliberating more than 10 hours over two days.

In a March 2006 attack in Mahmoudiya, about 20 miles south of Baghdad, Green and three other soldiers went to the home of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim al-Janabi. Green shot and killed the teen's mother, father and sister, then became the third soldier to rape the girl before killing her.

Green's attorneys never denied Green's involvement in the attack. Instead, they focused on trying to build a case that Green didn't deserve the death penalty.

Defense attorneys presented former Marines and other soldiers Green served with who testified that Green faced an unusually stressful combat tour in Iraq in a unit that suffered heavy casualties and didn't receive sufficient Army leadership while serving in Iraq's "Triangle of Death."

Enemy attacks killed two command sergeants, a lieutenant and a specialist in Green's unit during 12 days in December 2005. Jurors also were told that Green's unit was left alone to run a traffic checkpoint for several weeks without a break.

Green's father, John, and brother, Doug, sighed as the verdict was read.

"It's the better of two bad choices," said John Green, also of Midland, Texas.

Doug Green, 28, said the jury reached the appropriate decision.

"I do think it gives him a chance to have some semblance of a life," Doug Green said. "We're grateful for that."

The other soldiers directly involved in the attack are serving long sentences in military prison and testified against Green, who was tried in federal court as a civilian because he had been discharged from the Army before his arrest.
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