Testimony against US soldier accused in Iraq rape-slaying

Suspected of knowing the plan to rape the girl and pointing his weapon at the door for security.

jp.services1 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
A US soldier charged with rape and murder in the slayings of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and her family stood over his colleagues as they assaulted the girl and pointed his weapon at the door for security, another soldier testified Wednesday. Pfc. Jesse Spielman, whose court-martial entered its third day Wednesday, was within a few feet of the others as they held the girl down kicking and screaming, and he did nothing to stop them, Sgt. Paul E. Cortez testified. Military prosecutor Maj. William Fischbach asked Cortez if Spielman objected to the rape. "When, if ever, does Spielman say, 'My God, Cortez, what are you doing?"' Cortez, his lips trebling, replied: "'He doesn't."' Cortez previously pleaded guilty to the attack on Abeer Qassim al-Janabi and her family in Mahmoudiya and was sentenced to 100 years behind bars. Two other soldiers convicted in the attack were expected to testify against Spielman. A fourth accused soldier, who was discharged from the Army before being charged, could face the death penalty if convicted in federal court. Prosecutors do not allege that Spielman took part in the rape or killings, but he can be charged under military law if they can prove he went to the house knowing what the others intended to do. The other soldiers have told investigators that Spielman, 22, knew of the plan to rape the girl and was present when they worked out details over whiskey. Defense attorneys had yet to cross-examine Cortez on Wednesday. They said in their opening arguments that the soldiers who participated in the assault have provided contradictory statements about what happened that day in March 2006. During their courts-martial, Spc. James P. Barker and Cortez testified they took turns raping the girl while Pfc. Steven D. Green shot and killed her mother, father and younger sister. Green shot Abeer in the head after raping her, they said. The girl's body was then set on fire with kerosene to destroy the evidence, according to previous testimony. Barker and Pfc. Bryan L. Howard are expected to be called to testify against Spielman, who pleaded guilty Monday to lesser charges of conspiracy to obstructing justice, arson, wrongfully touching a corpse and drinking. Green, who was discharged from the Army, has pleaded not guilty to charges that include murder and sexual assault. No trial date has been set, and his attorney Patrick Bouldin declined to comment Tuesday.