[JURIST] US Army Sgt. Paul E. Cortez pleaded guilty on Tuesday to 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. Cortez reached a plea agreement [JURIST report] with prosecutors last month, removing the death penalty as a possible sentence. As a part of the deal, Cortez admitted to participating in the rape and murders, but declined to agree that the crimes were planned, an issue to be decided by the court during sentencing this week. Cortez faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole and a minimum sentence of life in prison with parole.
In November, Army Spc. James P. Barker pleaded guilty [JURIST report] to the rape and murder charges and 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 Army 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 three months before the attack, Green was diagnosed by military mental health workers as a homicidal threat [JURIST report]. Reuters has more.