Steven Green Will Be Sentenced to Life

After convicting Steven Green of hideous crimes in Iraq -- multiple murders and the rape of a 14-year-old girl -- the government tried to persuade Green's jury that Green deserved the punishment of death. A two week sentencing trial, followed by two days of deliberations, failed to produce a unanimous verdict. As Jeralyn noted here, Green will therefore be sentenced to life.

Some jurors who voted against death were apparently persuaded by evidence that combat stress impaired Green's ability to distinguish between Iraqis who posed a threat and those who didn't. That argument doesn't easily explain the rape of a teenage girl. The argument that probably had greater impact was eloquently capsulized by defense attorney Scott Wendelsdorf: "America does not kill its broken warriors." Juries are increasingly reluctant to impose death sentences, but they've always been disinclined to believe that men in uniform deserve death sentences.

[more ...]

As this post notes, while Green was the most culpable of the defendants who participated in the crimes, others joined in raping the girl and plotting the murders. For testifying against Green, those defendants probably bought their release from confinement after seven years. The government's decision to seek Green's death was wildly disproportionate to the short sentences the government deemed appropriate for the other defendants.

Unfortunately, the decision to spare Green's life will not be popular in Iraq. It comes at a time of escalating violence.

Bombers struck in Baghdad and a northern city Thursday, killing three U.S. soldiers and nearly two dozen Iraqis in a new spasm of violence that has taken at least 66 lives in two days.

Ironically, failing to impose the death penalty on Green may lead to the deaths of other American soldiers.

< Decline in Investigative Reporting Will Hurt Wrongly Convicted | "Preventive Detention" And Prisoners Of War >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    I think that Green had some problems (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Militarytracy on Fri May 22, 2009 at 08:36:23 AM EST
    before doing his combat time, but that doesn't tarnish the sense of relief that I feel in knowing that we don't kill our broken warriors.  And yet, another part of me feels that soldier card being played again because why do we find it any easier to kill any other sort of broken person?

    Broken people... (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by kdog on Fri May 22, 2009 at 10:29:41 AM EST
    well said Tracy...we shouldn't be putting broken people down like dogs period.

    I wouldn't call it the "soldier card" though...ya can't discount the heinous sh*t these men and women see and do and how it effects them...I don't think it is out of line to give people we pay to kill for us a little lee-way when warranted.  

    This crime can't be excused in anyway, don't get me wrong...I'm talking in general.  Ya can't turn people into trained killers and not expect fallout.


    Yeah (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by MrConservative on Fri May 22, 2009 at 12:25:56 PM EST
    No one really cares what you think narius. :(

    Sorry (none / 0) (#19)
    by TChris on Sat May 23, 2009 at 09:28:43 AM EST
    I had to delete McConservative's reply because it dropped an F-bomb.

    Life without parole (none / 0) (#3)
    by Steve M on Fri May 22, 2009 at 08:49:03 AM EST
    is not exactly a reprieve!!

    A tad grandiose (none / 0) (#14)
    by jondee on Fri May 22, 2009 at 03:20:22 PM EST
    to equate one opinion with what "society calls for."

    Well (none / 0) (#15)
    by Steve M on Fri May 22, 2009 at 03:30:12 PM EST
    sounds like you consider yourself more representative of "society" than the actual members of the jury, but that, alas, is not how our system works.

    I don't think Green was found guilty of rape.
    On each count, the jury of nine women and three men chosen from the pool by both the defense and prosecution attorneys came to a unanimous decision. Steven Green was found:

    • Guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to commit sexual assault.

    • Guilty of sexual assault and the aggravated (by another felony) sexual assault of Abeer Qassim Hamza, 14.

    • Guilty of premeditated, felony murder with a weapon in the death of Fakhriya Taha Muhasen, 34. That is a capital crime; Guilty of premeditated, felony murder with a weapon in the death of Qassim Hamza Raheem, 45, a capital crime. Guilty of premeditated, felony murder with a weapon in the death of Abeer Qassim Hamza, 14, a capital crime, and Guilty of premeditated, felony murder with a weapon in the death of Hadeel Qassim Hamza, 6, a capital crime.

    • Guilty of arson.

    • Guilty of obstruction of justice--hiding evidence.
    I cannot, or maybe I simply don't want to, imagine the horrors these guys experienced that would make them feel what they did to this family was justified.

    Oh, what a relief (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Spamlet on Fri May 22, 2009 at 12:26:46 PM EST
    He was only found guilty of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl.

    Even though women routinely become double victims--of rape, and of our criminal justice system's frequent inability and/or refusal to distinguish between rape and ordinary sexual intercourse--it's good to know that some of our citizens are capable of distinguishing between rape and sexual assault.



    crack and coke, etc., sure, let's be specific.

    Of course, now we learn that sexual assault = rape at the federal level.

    Mea culpa.


    War brings out the worst in us.... (none / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Fri May 22, 2009 at 12:01:05 PM EST
    like few other things can...its why you don't do it unless you absolutely have to, it kills ya the same as it kills your enemies...one way or the other.

    Under federal law (none / 0) (#9)
    by Steve M on Fri May 22, 2009 at 12:54:23 PM EST
    There is no such crime as "rape," only various degrees of sexual abuse under 18 U.S.C. chapter 89A.  Many states define it the same way, labeling it "criminal sexual conduct" or something of the sort.  I'm pretty sure sexual assault, in this context, is not being used to signify something less than rape.

    There you go, did not know that. Thanks. (none / 0) (#10)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri May 22, 2009 at 01:34:14 PM EST
    I can agree that he shouldn't be put to death (none / 0) (#18)
    by MrConservative on Sat May 23, 2009 at 04:37:49 AM EST
    But I can't agree that this judgment is consistent.  This is possibly one of the worst murders of the century.  When I read the details of the crime, I was left so cold I was unable to move.

    Iraqi jury? (none / 0) (#21)
    by KoolJeffrey on Sat May 23, 2009 at 02:49:00 PM EST
    In case you were wondering how an Iraqi jury would have handled the sentencing:

    The case is a flash point in Iraq, where many locals quoted in news reports have said death would be the only acceptable sentence. -- Time

    Maybe they would have been persuaded by this gem:

    "America does not kill its broken warriors."

    Looks like the Iraqis are catching on, however:

    But five years of war and occupation have left many Iraqi leaders reluctant to accept what the U.S. considers standard practice for U.S. forces overseas: immunity from prosecution in foreign courts. -- Time

    Are Iraqi civilians any less "combat stressed" than trained American troops?