A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Death penalty recommended for US soldiers accused of murdering Iraqi detainees

[JURIST] A US Army investigator has recommended that four US soldiers face the death penalty if they are convicted on charges of murdering Iraqi detainees [JURIST report] according to the Associated Press, which obtained a copy of the report Saturday. Lt. Col. James P. Daniel Jr. concluded that several aggravating factors contributed to the capital punishment recommendation. During an Article 32 hearing [JAG backgrounder; UCMJ text], prosecutors alleged that in a May 9 raid near Samarra in Iraq's Salahuddin province, the four soldiers - Sergeant Raymond Girouard, Specialist William Hunsaker, Pfc. Corey Clagett and Specialist Juston Graber - released several detainees only to shoot them as they fled. Prosecutors also alleged that Girouard stabbed Hunsaker to cover up the killings. Army officials must now decide whether the soldiers will face a court-martial, and if so, whether the death penalty will be requested.

The four soldiers from the Third Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] face charges of premeditated murder [JURIST report], attempted murder, and conspiracy, and could face the death penalty if convicted of premeditation. Clagett, Girouard and Hunsaker also face obstruction of justice charges for threatening to kill another soldier, Pfc. Bradley Mason, if he told investigators of their alleged plans for murdering the detainees. The soldiers argued that they followed the rules of engagement when they acted to prevent an escape attempt, and that they were ordered by their officers to "kill all military-aged males" in the raid. They have been held in Kuwait since their May arrests, and will likely be court-martialed at Fort Campbell. AP has more.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.