Whiskey And Golf Before Rape-Murder?

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
U.S. soldiers accused of raping and murdering a 14-year-old Iraqi girl drank alcohol and hit golf balls before the attack, an investigator said Monday at a U.S. military hearing to determine whether they should stand trial.

Criminal investigator Benjamin Bierce said he interviewed one of the accused, Spc. James P. Barker, on June 30, and recorded graphic and brutal details of the alleged assault on March 12.

Bierce was testifying on the second day of the hearing to determine whether five Fort Campbell, Ky.-based soldiers with the 101st Airborne Division must stand trial in the rape-slaying of Abeer Qassim al-Janabi and the killing of her father, Qassim Hamza; her mother, Fikhriya Taha; and her 5-year-old sister, Hadeel Qassim Hamza, in the town of Mahmoudiya, one of the most violent areas in Iraq.

The rape and murders are among the worst in a series of cases of alleged misconduct by U.S. service members that have tarnished the American military.

Barker's sworn and signed statement was submitted as evidence during the hearing and Bierce revealed portions during his testimony.

Barker is accused along with Sgt. Paul E. Cortez, Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman, Pfc. Bryan L. Howard of rape and murder. Another soldier, Sgt. Anthony W. Yribe, is accused of failing to report the attack but is not alleged to have been a direct participant.

Former Pfc. Steven D. Green was discharged from the Army for a "personality disorder" after the incident and was arrested in North Carolina in June on rape and murder charges. He has pleaded not guilty in federal court and is being held without bond.

At Monday's hearing, Pfc. Justin Watt testified that Howard told him before the incident that Green, Cortez and Barker had planned to rape a girl, and Howard was to be the lookout.

"There's nothing I've read that says what to do if your buddies have raped and murdered a family," Watt said.

Another investigator, Michael Hood, testified that he interviewed Spielman, who denied shooting or having sex with anyone in the house. Spielman passed a lie detector test, Hood said.

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for