Soldier pleads guilty in Iraq killings
FORT CAMPBELL, Kentucky (AP) -- One of four U.S. soldiers accused of raping an Iraqi girl last spring and killing her and her family pleaded guilty Wednesday and will testify against the others.
Spc. James P. Barker agreed to the plea deal to avoid the death penalty, said his civilian attorney, David Sheldon.
The killings in Mahmoudiya, a village about 20 miles south of Baghdad, were among the worst in a series of alleged attacks on civilians and other abuses by military personnel in Iraq.
Sgt. Paul E. Cortez and Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman, both members of the 101st Airborne Division with Barker, could face the death penalty if convicted in the case in courts-martial at Fort Campbell.
Former Army private Steve Green, 21, pleaded not guilty last week to charges including murder and sexual assault.
Green was discharged from the Army for a "personality disorder" before the allegations became known, and prosecutors have yet to say if they will pursue the death penalty against him.
The indictment accuses Green and others of raping the 14-year-old girl and burning her body to conceal their crimes. It also alleges that Green and four others stationed at a nearby checkpoint killed the girl's father, mother and 6-year-old sister.
Barker has given investigators vivid accounts of the assault. An investigator testified during a hearing in August that Barker had said the soldiers drank whiskey and played cards while plotting the assault, that Barker, Cortez and Green took turns raping the girl, and that Green shot her and her family.Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.
As in all wars, women and children usually suffer the most. The machismo atmosphere of most battalions and war-torn areas leave many women and children defenseless against invading/occupying forces and men from their own neighborhoods as well. Innocents are not only killed in motar attacks and gun-fights. As the violence grows and all sides become more dejected, angry and feelings of hopelessness set in, the violence will only have more fuel.