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Federal jury sentences ex-US soldier to life in Mahmudiya rape-murder case

[JURIST] Former US soldier Steven Green [JURIST news archive] was sentenced Thursday to life in prison for the rape and murder of an Iraqi teenage girl [JURIST news archive] and the murder of her family in Mahmudiya. A federal jury in the US District Court for the Western District of Kentucky [official website], which convicted [JURIST report] Green earlier this month, was instructed [proposed jury instructions, PDF] to decide "whether justice requires imposition of the death penalty or life imprisonment without any possibility of release." The jurors deliberated [AP report] over the sentencing for two days and could not reach a unanimous decision. Prosecutors had sought the death penalty [JURIST report], but Green's defense maintained that he did not deserve capital punishment due to the highly stressful combat situation he was in and a lack of sufficient leadership. The jury had to consider both aggravating and mitigating factors [18 USC § 3592] in contemplation of the death penalty.

Green faced a civilian jury due to being discharged for a psychiatric disorder before the charges were brought. He was one of six soldiers [JURIST report] charged with involvement in the rape and murders. Three other soldiers pleaded guilty in court-martial proceedings and a fourth was convicted. Spc. James P. Barker and Sgt. Paul E. Cortez were sentenced to 90 and 100 years respectively, while Pfc. Bryan L. Howard [JURIST reports], who stayed at the checkpoint and had prior knowledge of the plans, was sentenced to 27 months in jail. The fourth, Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman [JURIST report], was convicted by a military jury and sentenced to 110 years. Prosecutors dropped charges of dereliction of duty against the sixth member, Sgt. Anthony Yribe, who was other than honorably discharged.

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