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Second US soldier pleading guilty in Mahmudiya rape-murder case

[JURIST] A second US soldier has reached a plea deal with prosecutors, and is expected to plead guilty to charges stemming from the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl [JURIST news archive] and the murder of her family in the Mahmudiya (also "Mahmoudiya") area last March, his attorney announced Thursday. According to William Cassara, Sgt. Paul E. Cortez will plead guilty to rape and premeditated murder at a hearing at Fort Campbell next month. Cassara said Cortez will accept responsibility for what happened, claiming that he knew what was going to happen in the attack, and participated as an observer.

As a result of the plea deal, Cortez will no longer face the death penalty. While other details of the deal are as yet unknown, the US soldier who already reached a deal with prosecutors [JURIST report], Army Spc. James P. Barker, was sentenced to 90 years in prison [JURIST report], an effective life sentence, but with the possibility of parole. Barker himself agreed to testify against the other soldiers implicated [JURIST report] in the attack. Former US soldier Pfc. Steven D. Green [JURIST news archive], discharged from the military because of a personality disorder before the allegations arose, is said to have been the key player in the rape and murders, and has pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] in his civilian trial in federal court in Kentucky. It was recently revealed that 3 months before the attack, Green was diagnosed by military mental health workers as a homicidal threat [JURIST report]. AP has more.

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