Steven D. Green

Steven D. Green
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Friday, May 22, 2009

evan's opinion and thankyous

This isn't the post you're looking for. If you want to see the final blog about closing statements and the verdict scroll down a bit or please click here.

Let's see here
(I'm gonna talk like an 18 year old now, get over it)....This has been one of the most incredible, astounding, and enlightening experiences of my life. That's really all I want to say about that.

People emailed asking for my own opinions:

This case was a tragedy snowball which began rolling the very day Steven Green was born, even before. Did Green screw up? Hell yeah. Did Barker, Cortez, and Spielman? Of course. Did the Army? ahhh, therein lies the ruse. Did Green's parents do their job? The plot thickens!

Let's be clear here: I'm not taking sides of this case. What happened, happened, and the jury decided what the...or no they didn't actually! Either way, now Green is imprisoned for life. But, if there's one thing I am going to opine that I have determined in reading/studying/noting/writing about all of this, it's that there are FAR. TOO. MANY. PLACES. where this snowball of i-don't-know-what, could have been stopped in it's tracks. Roxanne should have been a better mother. Roxanne and John(and possibly Daniel) should have been better parents. Doug could've been a little less of a bully to his lil' bro. His various highschools could've worked a little bit harder at giving a needy student the extra push he needed. Hell, Steve could've stuck to his Riddlin' sched and made better grades. Alright enough with the family. Onward to the Army. Green tried to enlist in the Army in several counties, and was denied due to his alcohol/pot record. Good job, those recruiters. Then Green and Daniel Carr made a hop/skip/jump over to New Mexico or somewhere, where that one recruiter decided to say to himself, "okay, hell, if this kid can pass high school in 6 months, I'll waive his drinkin' and smokin'." And look what happened. Look what became of his one exception. I hope he's reading this out there somewhere and you feel just great!

Alright. Green goes to Iraq. We've heard this story before and I'm not going to even get into how many soldiers or sergeants or various other sources have emailed me to weigh in on the subject and whether what was being said in court was the truth or not. I'm going to keep it simple. Dear Army, wake the **** up! Our army is miserly thieving soldiers of their benefits, is obviously faking innocence to something regarding Steven Green's case, and is APPARENTLY STILL DOING WHATEVER THAT MIGHT BE. We know Green and his buds messed up. But come ON! DAMN! Take responsibility for what you've done! You didn't totally screw up, Green's guilty for about a 1/3 of it, as are you, as are ...something with how that man grew up.

People were never on their toes around Steven Green. Things that should've set off alarms...didn't. People didn't tattle tail(oops). People didn't report. People didn't get him help(oops). People didn't pay him attention(oops). It's about the little things, people, the little things. They don't mean much NOW but in the long run, they add up. There might be some kind of trend there, with some of those LITTLE factors.

Next topic: lawyers. All the lawyers did an awesome job. I've only done mock trial for four years, so this is kind of a step up for me and I don't know everything. But in my opinion all of them were given an extremely shitty case and they made one hell of a case out of it for their respective sides. Again, not taking sides, but particularly the defense. Mountains out of molehills. The prosecution had their case from day 1. More professionalism than I ever hope to have to be around for this amount of time ever again!

As for the jury, I don't know. During guilt phase they could've agreed to give him guilty on all but not kill him when sentencing rolled around. A single juror could've walked in yesterday(it's 1:11AM, so 2 days ago now) and immediately said "you can deliberate all ya want, I'm not killin 'im." All in all, I think if you gave any jury this case as it was presented, you'd have gotten the exact same verdict. So, in my ever so humble opinion, I think they gave him guilty because, he was. But they also collectively ate a little crow and said "aight, it wasn't only Green," hence the inability to decide the verdict.

Alright, enough of my rambling bull.

I've got a few thank yous and a few statements of my own to make:
I'd like to thank....the Academy for not really.
There are a few people who need to be greatly thanked for making this/allowing this to happen, and otherwise assisting in the process.

-More than anything, the ridiculously awesome principal of my high school, Mrs. Debbie DeWeese who realized the chance opportunity I had in doing this and bent over backwards to make it happen for me
-Judge Thomas Russell and Vanessa Armstrong for actually allowing a highschooler to be set loose in a Federal trial-- what where you thinking?!
My teachers for being so much more accommodating and understanding when they didn't have to be
-Various ...people, from both sides and the middle, who gave and various other assorted ...things, when you didn't have to. You know who you are.
-Lawyers, right! uhhh, Darren Wolff for the advice, evidence, comedy, and the "what's that little bastard up to this time?" stare. Patty B for the confidence. Scott Dusseldorf for being a Mac dude. Marisa Ford for being the only prosecutor who was willing to talk to me(Lesousky/Skaret, sorry dudes)
-Of course, the parentals. My mom made me sandwiches and ironed my clothes everyday. Dad yelled at me to wake up. If that isn't love, I don't know what is!
-Brett Barrouquere(I spelt that shit RIGHT!) and Jim Frederick for their all-seeing all-knowing incredible intelligence, wisdom, and advice.
-Gail Mellor and Matthew Palevsky for getting me on THE HUFFINGTON POST HOLY SHIT. I can't thank you enough and wouldn't know how if I tried, so I'm not going to.
-Dave Alsup from CNN...for nothing other than answering my questions, not getting mad at the spilt milk, and being a total badass.

My email address is eviio at comcast dot net(you can put the @ and the . in their places). I'm examining my options of continuing my writing. This trial had a huge(not as big as it should've been) following. I don't mind writing, but no offense to anyone in particular, I don't think I could handle sticking to trials/iraq/war crimes/death penalty cases. I have ADD. I've had people tell me to make this blog into a book, if for nothing else to say I've written one. I'm looking into that.

Send me your ideas for the future/my future/ the future of my blog/writing. Send me pictures of your dog. I don't care. I thank all of you for your support and I wish ya well in your life and endeavours. This trial is more or less over. I might come back to post for appeals or something, who knows. But by then, you'll have forgotten about I don't blame you, it's hard not to forget things in todays information-ASAP world. I might also post a link to my new blog, if a new blog is born. We'll see.

It's been real-- Evan Bright

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Sentence and A life

Day 17

Both sides presented excellent closing statements…some would call each of them “perfection.” Given the circumstances, I would. Perhaps it was the closing statements, so wrought with history and emotion and pain, which caused the jury to hang.

A short review

In closing statements, Brian Skaret presented a contrasting tale of the now deceased family versus the defense case. “Imagine little Hadeel’s body when it snapped as the bullet flew through her head… and Dr. Gur says Green had frontal lobe damage?” Skaret then presented a previously entered picture of Qassim Al-Janabi’s crime scene, “Well, here’s Qassim’s frontal lobe.” He talked about the rest of the family, especially Abeer, “Abeer had dreams of escaping her circumstances, of joining the city life, of meeting a man, but Steven Green prevented that…but they say that Green’s parents spent a lot of time at bars.” He also stated that if Casica and Nelson, Green’s now deceased superior officers while in Iraq, knew of their use in this case, “they would roll over in their graves!” He spoke of the defense building a smoke screen around the case, “but it is the smoke from the fire of Abeer’s burning body.”

“How many people will they try to blame? This isn’t about childhood, background information, combat stress…this is about heinous acts. The search for a scapegoat ends today.” In contrast to the defense’s statements and questioning regarding Barker and Cortez’ parole option, he made sure to tell the jury “there is no evidence that they’ll make parole, this is pure speculation. The letter will say ‘these men cooperated,’ yes, but we can also speculate that they’ll die in prison in 90 or 100 years.”

To no surprise, Skaret’s ended emotionally and valiantly, “Today is the day when you can stand up, and say no…no, no, NO! Our soldiers do not do this. He (points to Green) held that family’s life in his hands and crushed it, and in doing so he signed his own name to this death sentence. We ask that you finish what he started.”

A shorter review

Scott Wendelsdorf did his absolute best in pulling on the emotional strings of jurors. “There has been enough horror to last each of us, a lifetime,” he began. “The prosecution acts like we don’t care about Abeer.” Once again he spoke of the horrific nature of the crimes. “They(points to prosecution) act like life in prison is a slap on the wrist. No…a slap on the wrist is what Cortez and Barker got.” Echoing Pat Bouldin’s opening, Wendelsdorf reminded the jury, “As you know we never disputed Steven’s role in these crimes.” He talked about justice and what plays a role in it, stating that “you know, a big component of justice is fairness.” He talked about rape being Barker’s idea, and of Green confessing to Col. Marrs four separate times about his homicidal ideations. He talked about Marrs’ psychiatric reports and dissertations, in one of which she stated that ‘Combat can make the best soldiers commit the worst of crimes.’ Wendelsdorf ramped up in rhetorically questioning, “Where was Fenlason? Where was Goodwin?! There WERE no hard stripes at TCP2!” He talked about the “combat incapable” status that Marrs gave the platoon. “We’re not diverting responsibility,” he told the court. He implied that the Army knew that soldiers like Green were prime candidates for suicide and homicide. “This war changed them, it broke them, and it cut them, and led to this 15 minutes of madness.” He brought up a quote stating that, “Man’s law is most like God’s law when mercy seizes justice,” after which he vigorously ended his opening. “NO! America does not kill its broken heroes! Spare this boy! SPARE HIM!”

The verdict

The jury was given their instructions and the deliberations began. They deliberated for three and a half hours yesterday before adjourning. Throughout yesterday and today, there was much speculation regarding the possible outcome. Some thought out loud, “it can’t be good if [the jury is] taking this long.” Others speculated about a single juror holding out on the death penalty, and one unidentified person jokingly commented, “Hell for all we know they could be in there sleeping or playing poker.” Some people expressed frustration upon hearing that the jury had ordered lunch for tomorrow(Friday) as well as requesting extra work release forms. Various parts of the media could be seen camped out around the courthouse, and others were seen napping(err, heard snoring) in the media room(see picture below).

At 3:51PM a U.S. Marshall notified the court that the jury had reached a verdict. The gabble sirens were sounded and everyone came running.

The jury deliberated for a total of ten hours and twenty minutes. While waiting for the jury, Jim Lesousky(P) was seen, hands clasped, as if in prayer. Scott Wendelsdorf(D) was pacing around the defense table, anxious and apprehensive. His hands were shaking as he took his seat. Green, appearing in the same maroon sweater vest as before, appeared surprisingly calm, his breathing steady; the exact same calm-cool-collected look could also be seen on Green’s father John and uncle David, present in court. Pat Bouldin(D) twiddled his thumbs with his head down, knowing that this was the moment they’d spent the past two and a half years preparing for.
The jury entered, looking quite stern. Two juror’s lips were near quivering. The members of the defense team looked down, while the prosecution eyed the flock of jurors for the last time. After reviewing the verdict forms, Judge Russell announced that the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict, giving Green life in prison without possibility of parole.


A collective sigh of relief went up from the defense side. Wendelsdorf leaned back in his chair and eyed the sky, thankful. Steven Green’s brother Doug slouched in his court-pew, murmuring “thank you,” his hands shaking with relief. John Green, David Green, Doug Green, and an assistant from the defense team shared hugs all around. The three defense lawyers pounced on their phones, presumably informing wives and witnesses of the [lack of a] verdict. The prosecution appeared content. After the jury exited, Russell thanked everyone for his or her cooperation and assistance.

Doug, Green’s brother, said that “Given the choices, this was the only appropriate verdict,” later adding that he has “mixed emotions about the verdict, but at least he’ll have some semblance of life. We’re grateful.” Green’s father merely stated that it was “the best of two bad choices.” The defense team issued statements. They are as follows:

"We are obviously pleased with the penalty phase verdict given the two choices available to the jury. However, there won’t be any celebrating tonight by the defense team. Mr. Green will spend the rest of his life in jail and the events of March 12 2006 have forever changed the lives of many. It is a tragic case on so many levels. At the end of the day, we truly hope the US military will take a hard look at the resources they provide our service members dealing with combat stress issues. If they do not, we are certain a tragedy like this will occur again in the future."
- The Defense team

Darren Wolff also issued a separate statement, being that he does not work for the government:

"Steven Green did not want to try this case. He offered to plead guilty on two separate occasions in exchange for his life. Those pleas were rejected by the Department of Justice. That is when it became obvious that this case was not about fairness or equity, it was about appeasing the overseas communities who have been calling for Mr. Green’s execution. We are pleased the jury did not bow to those politically motivated pressures."
- Darren Wolff, Individually

For the prosecution, Marisa Ford gave the age-old response you might expect:

"This trial represents some of the most important principles of our Constitution and our democracy in action. The decision of how just would be best served was left to the people. We have the utmost respect for their decision and we very much appreciate the attention the jury gave to the evidence in this case."

Later, Darren Wolff and Pat Bouldin told the editor of this blog that they feel they “have a good chance with appeals…this is a law that has not been tested yet…but it will be.” Wolff stated that “This as a tragedy for the Al-Janabi family, this was a tragedy for the soldiers, this was a tragedy for Green and his family.” Like the witnesses he questioned, he stated that, “yes,” he “will maintain contact with Steven while in prison.”


I will be posting a "thank you note," if you will, later tonight.


The jury was unable to reach a verdict in USA v Green.
Therefore, Federal District Judge Thomas B. Russell will impose a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole, when Green is formally sentenced on September 4th at 11:30AM.

Check back later tonight for the writeup on both closings and the verdict. Lots to come.

Deliberation's Continue

Day 17

Ahem. For those of you wondering where yesterday's blog is, or perhaps wondering if the judge had kidnapped and sequestered me... I haven't.

The jury began deliberations yesterday after hearing closing statements from Brian Skaret(P) and Scott Wendelsdorf(D). Their deliberations continue as I write this(10:28AM Thursday). Details on closing statements will be found in the post-verdict writeup. Which will hopefully be today.

Until that time, here's this from CNN's Deborah Feyerick:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Calm Before The Storm

If I tried to tell you that my "young" mind wasn't beginning to show signs of wear from doing this for ...nearly three weeks now, I'd be lying. Regardless, if you have any ideas about what I should do with this blog or what should become of it after the trial is over, please comment or email me.

Day 15

The defense rested today. While some were surprised that the jury would not get to hear testimony from any of Green's direct family, while others expected it.

For the prosecution, Jim Lesousky called a single rebuttal witness, as previously predicted. Dr. Helen Mayberg, a clinical neurologist at Emory University, was called; Dr. Ruben Gur was also listening via muted phone so as to hear what her response to his testimony would be.

Mayberg was called to respond to the testimony of Gur. She told the court of her medical degree from USC and of her certification in neurology. Her testimony did not last nearly as long as Gurs. She told the jury that "testing one person deemed possibly mentally disabled...against a control group of forty-one 'healthy' people, would not always produce accurate results." She told the court that she did not note the same variations within Green's MRI that Dr. Gur previously testified to the jury. She also testified that in Gur's study of the forty one "healthy" subjects, they were tested using MRI's of a 1.5 tesla strenth, as well as two other measurements/settings that were to equal or be set to "one;" she told the jury when Gur reviewed Green's MRI, he failed to notice that his MRI was given at a 3.0 tesla strength, and that the two other aformentioned settings were also different, meaning that Green's MRI would not have matched the control group results regardless. For the most part, the defense has been excellent, but if they've ever suffered a setback, this would be it.

For the defense, Scott Wendelsdorf crossed Dr. Mayberg on her witness history and her pay grade. She admitted that in her "twenty plus" years of testimony, she had never testified for the defense, only prosecution. She also admitted that while amount of pay doesn't affect her testimony, she was getting paid $500 per hour of testimony today.

Just after the judge stipulated the jury on a few menial matters, court adjourned at 10:50AM. Prosecution and Defense needed time to prepare both closing statements and to agree on jury instructions.

Closing statements start at 9AM sharp tomorrow, Wednesday, May 20th. After completion, the judge will instruct the jury and the waiting game will begin. Personally, I'm predicting that we'll have a verdict by this time(9:05PM CST) tomorrow. I, Evan Bright, am also predicting a sentence of life in prison, one way or another.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Final Furlong

Day 14

The defense has almost completed its case for the jury. Noah Galloway was called to the stand first today. Patrick Bouldin questioned him about his level of confidence and his reasons for that confidence surrounding his February 2003 campaign in Iraq. "I was very confident, because of the excellent leadership. I told my wife to not worry about me because I wasn't worried about myself, I was in good hands." In contrast, regarding his second tour of duty in Iraq, he wasn't nearly as confident, due to the lack of training, and communication..."From the position of Company Commander, that was Captain Goodwin, all the way up past Colonel Kunk, I had my doubts," he told the jury.

The second witness to take the stand today was Deacon Dan Houck. Houck is a Deacon with the Archdiocese of Louisville. He is 82 years old, having served in WWII('44-'46) as a scout, Korea(3 years) as a 2nd Lieutenant with an 89th Tank Battallion, and Vietnam('69-'70) as a Lieutenant Colonel. He has served 16 years as a chaplain to the Kentucky State Reformatory. He testified that Steven Green requested to begin discussions with someone about joining the Catholic Church. Houck accepted the offer, thinking he could help with his past military experience. He testified that he had met with a very sincere Green around 40 times, expressing interest in the history of the Church. "Steven was very well read, in my talks with him. He did his homework. He was sincere," Houck told jurors. He told the court that as Green stands trial today, he is a baptized Catholic.

The final witness to testify today was Patricia Ruth, Steven's aunt, and sister to John Green, Steven's dad. Her daughter is Suzi Woolsey, who testified last Thursday. She spoke of Roxanne being a flamboyant and outgoing person who "lived in her own world." She contrasted in that she herself was "strict" on her children, whereas Roxanne was "the opposite" with hers. "She wanted her children to be individuals and live an unstructured life," she told the jury. She said that as a child, Steven was "always the kid who wanted to know 'why?,' and he was also very hyper active. He was like having a squirrel loose in the house." When Pat Bouldin asked if she still loved Green, she had to retrieve tissues for her tears before answering, "I'm like a second mother to him, he's my Stevie...(pauses) can't just...stop loving someone, that you've always loved." She paused and thought for a moment before going on, "I don't know, I don't know how we got to spot...I don't know, we did not send a rapist and a murderer to Iraq."

Perhaps the biggest point in her testimony, Bouldin asked her why Roxanne, Steven's mother, couldn't be here in Paducah to testify. "I'm not sure, but from what I've heard, to the best of my knowledge, she had to move and had plans to have a going away party so she couldn't attend?" In contrast, Bouldin noted that John Green and David Green, Green's Dad and Uncle, were present in the gallery. After she finished testimony and after the mid-morning break, a paralegal from the defense team would approach Ruth to tell her that "Steve wanted me to tell you that he wishes he could come over here and hug you." She tearfully wished she could do the same.

Court adjourned at roughly 11AM today(Monday, May 18th).

The schedule as it stands:

Tuesday(tomorrow): Remaining defense witnesses, if there are any, followed by the Prosecution's one rebuttal witness(an expert/specialist of some kind). There is a "50/50" chance that we will hear closing statements tomorrow, Pat Bouldin allegedly said. If not tomorrow, expect to hear them on Wednesday.

-Any ideas on what should become of this blog post-trial? Feel free to suggest!
-Dull dark brown sweater vest. Defense Attorney Darren Wolff looking extra Dapper Dan in the three piece suit as well.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Runt of the Family

Day 13

The defense continued and almost completed it's case for the penalty phase.

The first witness was one Tammi Dehay. She has known Green for about 10 years, beginning with becoming friends with one of Green's cousins before she was introduced to him. She spoke of having an ongoing correspondence with Green, even during his imprisonment during the past 3 years. She said that Steven is "hilarious, he's one of the most brilliant people I know." Darren Wolff then asked her about her relationship with Green, to which she tearfully responded "he's my friend and I care about him deeply."

The next witness was a school teacher named Suzi Woolsey from Argyle, Texas. Pat Bouldin(D) asked Woolsey about her relationship with Green, she thoughtfully said "he's the son of my mother's brother," making them cousins. She spoke of occasional visits with Steven and his family when they were younger, mostly on weekends and often during the summer. She talked about her memories of playing with Green and his brother Doug at a young age, while her older sister babysat Danielle(or 'Dani'), their little sister, while the mother, Roxanne, was out at work.

She talked about their way of life, describing the family home, "there were lots of toys....Roxanne's sewing equipment took up a lot of was kind of cluttered." She also remembered Roxanne and defendant Green's father separating. She herself testified that she didn't get along well with Roxanne, telling tales of being a pest to Roxy, making her frustrated and flustered. "I knew I didn't have to obey her and that I could get away with anything."

Getting to the important part of her testimony, Bouldin directed her to the general style of the Green family's way of life. Asked about the structure, she testified, "There wasn't any. I was always a little...uneasy, while I was at their house." She talked about how her family was structured with rules, expectations, chores, and contrasted that by noting that none of these things existed in the Green household. She testified that as she got older, she learned that Roxanne had an affair with a local plumber, causing their divorce, and the later remarrying to Daniel Carr(who testified two days ago). She spoke of the home made movies, usually filmed on holidays, and how they stopped occurring after the divorce; her chances to spend time with Green and his siblings was greatly diminished.

She continued with more stories. She talked about spending the night at Roxanne and Daniel's new house in Clearlake, TX(they moved the family there after the divorce). She spoke of the house being dirty and very cluttered, and how Roxanne and Daniel weren't even home when she arrived. She told the jury that after she returned home, she had to shave her hair off after finding head lice, just before her senior year. According to her, this cause more riffs between her and her aunt.

She testified that when she visited the family when they lived in Seabrook, TX, the house appeared as if it hadn't been cleaned at all, as well how she only saw Roxanne once during her two day stay at the house. "Not only that but all three kids had at least one if not two friends over." She talked about Doug and his relationship with Steve, " Doug and his friends were mean to Steve...they told him to shut up and were very physically and verbally abusive." She testified that she couldn't think of any sibling in any family that was as mean as Doug, and also about how Doug and his friends ganged up on Steve. "Roxanne was never around to stop the bullying like in other families," she commented. Danielle was injured by Doug's abuse thee separate times she told the court.

Pat Bouldin lead Woolsey to her opinion of Roxanne, who she said was "selfish, conceited....she never put her kids first in any of her decisions." She told the court that Roxanne allowed Danielle to drop out of school in the 6th grade. "Doug and Dani were her favorites...Doug could do what he wanted and Danielle was her princess on a pedestal." Bouldin then asked her how she would rate Roxanne as a mother on a scale of one to ten. Woolsey gave her a 2 out of 10. "What about Daniel Carr as a father?" "3 or 4..maybe," Woolsey said. She said that she would "never" have classified the house as "loving."

Green while in high school

As Green's life progressed, she spoke of hoping for his future. When he began discussing the military, she said she felt like "this is going to be a good thing." After he graduated from basic, they spoke on the phone, she told the court. "This was the first time he'd ever sounded like he respected someone.....he sounded changed." When she saw Green after his tour in Iraq, she said that he "was almost unrecognizable...his eyes were sunken in, he was thinner than I'd ever seen him." She talked about Green's living with them for a short period, after his return to Iraq. "He didn't eat much, he didn't sleep much....he seemed very uneasy." Pat Bouldin also questioned her about the current relationship between herself and Steve's brother Doug: "Well...he calls when he needs a place to stay or something...he doesn't hang around. Steve, he'll call me just to talk to me."

In ending his direct, Bouldin asked Woolsey on her thoughts of Green as a person. "He's so caring, loyal...he's a nice, funny person." Like Wolff, Bouldin asked her if she would keep in contact with Green while imprisoned, she agreed. She stopped with "He was such an adorable child, just wanted a little attention...he's like a little brother to me."

For cross-ex, Brian Skaret(P) just made the point that "Green had high potential, did he not?" and that he had opportunities "as most people do?" Woolsey agreed to both.

(Note: This witness testified for nearly 3 and a half hours and giving me seven pages of notes. As a reference, everything you see above this took about four pages. This witness was long winded to say the least, therefore what you see will be only the bigger points.)

The next witness was Jan Vogelsang, a clinical social worker and mental health expert, owning her own practice in Greenville, NC. She is licensed and verified. She began my talking about her job description... "to do a bio-psychological social assessment." She spoke of reviewing "hundreds" of documents, relating to the case as well as Green's history and ancestry(see annotation #1 at the bottom for more detail).

She began by testifying that through her review, she found Steven Green "as a young child, had an enormous amount of potential, as well as many gifts that were left untouched and undiscovered due to neglect. He was also surrounded by an immense amount of chaos in his life...but despite this, when things around him were calm, he too was calm. His behavior reflects his surroundings." She also mentioned that "he was a classic case of simply being born at the wrong time, in the wrong place, into the wrong family."

She began telling the tales of Green's ancestry. "They were a hard working family, a boot strappin' crew, they believed in service to their country and to their community." Green was very attentive during this portion of her testimony, behaving as if he was in a class, trying to learn his own history. She talked about Green's views of life in his earlier years, "he grew up with a view of life having the 50's traditions as in the TV show 'Happy Days,' so when his life was the complete opposite of that, it was detrimental to him." She talked about Green's extended family military history. She began talking about Roxanne, Green's mother. "Roxanne's family live in the South, they worked hard to see that each generation would be better than the last, but they also had a running theme of alcoholism and substance abuse." She mentioned Steven Green's grandfather killing himself after a particularly rough drinking binge. She talked about Roxanne's being spoiled throughout her life, as well as being the center of attention. She talked about her 'rebellious-ness', and her early experimentation and use of drugs(LSD, Valium, speed, coke..."anything she could get her hands on).

She got on the subject of Roxanne's marriage to John Green, with a history of how they arrived there. "They were an immature couple for their age...they lacked any real sense of growing up....they enjoyed the nightlife. They lacked the maturity to realize that drinking and partying at some point comes to a stop. They were more like kids than their own kids..[...]..they reinforced each others drug and alcohol use."

She spoke about the unexpected pregnancy with Doug. She testified that when Doug was born, "Roxanne instituted a lifestyle change within herself." She calmed down with her partying, and began experimenting with various forms of religion(including "The Science of the Mayan Church"), she changed her haircut, and even had a baby shower. But, "after a year of being a homemaker and giving birth," Vogelslang told the jury, "she returned to her work-and-party lifestyle." While Doug was unexpected, he was still born into a world of happiness and excitement. "Green was unexpected, but he was not treated as Doug was." She testified that Roxanne was unhappy about being pregnant and losing her figure once again. "During pregnancy and after birth, Green was looked at as a nuisance," Vogelsang said. Green was "not easily soothed, he didn't eat well, he barely slept at all, and didn't nurse well either." She reiterated that other family members had to step in and assist with the care of Green.

The snowball started rolling. "Roxanne often laughed at and joked about Steve," she told the court, "Roxanne unfortunately never realized Steven's gifts, and in doing so, made him an easy target." Something that subtly shocked the courtroom, she testified that in her interview with Green, he told her that Roxanne "had told Steven that if he had been born in colonial times, she would legally have been allowed to take him out to the forest and kill him."

She talked about Green in his younger age. "According to interviews, he was bowlegged as a child, making him a very uncoordinated, clumsy child."...[...]..."As a child, when he was with anyone but his primary family, he did great!" giving an example of his aunt teaching him to count and to read, as well as reading to him. "again, when someone paid attention to Steve, and provided a structured environment around him, he'd do fine." She spoke about Green being very neglected as a child, and because of that, having a very low self esteem. "He acted in ways that would get him rejected by his family, mostly by trying to get attention in the first place." She told a story of Green creating a painting of a heart with an arrow through it, which he tried to give to Roxanne. "Roxanne just turned and walked away, according to Steven." She also told how Roxanne ignored Doug's beatings of Steve. "Roxanne unfortunately thought that children should discipline contributed to her children being socially inept."

She told the story of how Roxanne began having an affair, and the subsequent divorce between herself and John. That forced Green to move to northern Texas to live with his uncle. "While there," she said, "he received some minor possession for selling beer in his school parking lot so that he could buy food, and another where he was caught with a blunt(marijuana cigar) in his hand." She spoke of important things Green didn't have. "One of the most important things a parent can teach a child is that they will face adversity in their life and how to face it. Green was not taught to face adversity, at all."

She spoke of Roxanne's relationship with Doug. "She made Doug a best friend, and a confidant," she said. This occurred more so during the periods of time when Roxanne lacked a significant male friend or boyfriend or husband. "She turned Doug into a substitute male...which gives that male too much power. She shared too much with him. She empowered him as the enforcer of the house, she put him in charge." Doug was also extremely abusive. "Doug was mentally, physically, and emotionally abusive to Steve and Danielle." The court has already heard testimony about Danielle taking three trips to the emergency room due to injuries suffered from Doug, something I left out of the blog previously. "Roxanne felt that Steve deserved Doug's abuse." She talked about Roxanne actually missing Steve's graduation from basic training. She ended by talking about the end result. "The accumulation of tumultuous events in his life made him into Steven Green."

Court adjourned early at roughly ~3:30 PM today, and will be out of session until Monday, May 19th. The defense has to prepare more witnesses, presumably Green's direct family(Roxanne, Doug, Danielle, and John). Personally, my guess is that those witnesses were ready today, but the defense doesn't want to give the jury time to forgot them over the weekend. The prosecution is also reportedly bringing in their own expert to combat the brain analysis etc.

Seeya Monday.

1-Annotation of Vogelsang's research-: Owns her own private practice. Worked at the Veteran's Affairs for a number of years. Licensed by the South Carolina Social Workers, as well as being board certified. Conducted a total social, bio-psychological, and historical assessment of Green's family. Conducted interviews, reviewed documents, did research on the ancestry, reviewed child welfare documents, court records, family systems, neurological documents. Interviewed all of the following: Danielle, Suzi Woolsey, Patricia Ruth(aunt to Green), Uncle David, Doug, Allma Thomas, Steven Green, Green's maternal grandmother( a Simolke ), Greg Simolke, Daniel Carr, Jim Isclaw, Chase Bentley, Roxanne, Cody Ray and Joni Ray, & father John Green. Reviewed lots of mental records, and visited Midland, TX as well as other cities, reviewed school records, employment records, previously conducted psychological interviews, as well as drug treatment records.

2- Will someone please bring me RedBull or maybe some Starbucks? I have a sneaky suspicion that there are a few people in the courtroom who are getting a little peeved about my "inability to stay alert"(or awake perhaps) during the more monotonous parts of testimony. :(

3- CNN is now doing daily coverage as well. See their latest here. While we're at it, check out The Common Ills as they are also doing near-daily coverage. Other sites covering the trial: Expose The War Profiteers, Firedoglake/Oxdown, The West Kentucky Star.

4- IF you actually read this far then you're obviously quite dedicated: therefore I'm going to entrust you to tell me what should become of this blog after the trial, because I honestly don't know. Leave a comment or drop me an email at eviio - AT - comcast - DOT - net.

Controversy and Conjecture



You may recall that earlier this week, we heard testimony from one Eric Lauzier, more specifically, his opinion on the leadership he experienced while serving in Iraq.

As I wrote on Monday:

The most controversial person to testify yet, Eric Lauzier was called to the stand. He testified about leadership, because he HAS been discharged from the Army and will suffer no repercussions from his testimony. He nearly vilified the army:

When asked about Sgt. Fenlason(the commanding officer over the co-defendants who wasn't present at TCP2 on March 12th), he appeared to become testy, saying “that man was tactically incompetent. He had what, sixteen years of service, with only four of those years spent ‘on the line’. He never fired his weapon and he’d never been fired at, he hid out at TCP1 the entire time, in fact I think he told me ‘I’ve never seen an insurgent before.’ He was a ‘hider-and-slider.’”(A hider-and-slider is a term used to describe an Army officials who “hide” from combat while sliding up the ranks). He was asked about the Combat Stress program and it’s reputation. He told the court that he overheard Cortez ask Fenlason for permission to go to Combat Stress. According to Lauzier, Fenlason’s response to Cortez was “you want to take that punk ass route? Go right ahead.”

I have received a response from Mr. Jeff Fenlason himself, regarding these allegations, which he requests that I post. It is as follows:


I am not worried too much about what people think about me
anymore. They are entitled to their opinion - and I have mine about many of them as well! As you know, what you have been told or heard in court does not represent the whole story, just the parts of the story that suit different people's need. I have consistently believed that this case is unique, that it has leadership and other complexities that the Army should spend time looking at, and that to tell any story accurately you have to see the same issue from all sides equally.

There are those who were in my platoon who
did not like, nor agree with my decisions. That's fine. They were not asked to make those decisions. I was and did. I have never shied away from hard questions regarding them. They were then, and remain tactically sound. Not because I say so, but because the Army said so. I have been investigated, judged, examined, defined etc pretty thoroughly. Somebody's opinion of me in an email or anonymous post doesn't really matter much.

In the world of instant editorial that we live in, people should be careful
to opine about anything without all the facts. For example, Ms. Mellor's comments the other day that I responded to I thought were spot-on. Her post yesterday however shows an lack of understanding of the law. And yet she is entitled to her opinion.
Jeff Fenlason"

Turbulent but Spirited Childhood

Day 12
A plethora of witnesses testified today, with more doctors and officials, and some of Steven Green’s high school friends.

Testimony began with a combat veteran and military law professor Gary Solis. Defense attorney Darren Wolff took Solis through his background information. Solis fought in Vietnam and went on to London School of Law before holding teaching "The Art of Armed Conflict" at West Point and now at Georgetown Law. He also served as a prosecutor in 400 military cases and as a military military judge for 330 cases. Wolff questioned him on the importance and purpose of military training: “It imbues one with obedience to authority, it trains an individual to respect and respond, and it makes that response instinctive.” He spoke about the erosion of morale that can be caused by combat, and the test of leadership. "Perceptions become blunted, over time."

When asked if judgment can also be degraded as well, Solis listed off the stresses of combat(being fired at near-constantly, less than four(4) hours of sleep), “it was bad in the best of conditions…it’s not long before judgment will degrade and soldiers will become…callused [to the stresses]." Marisa Ford(P) crossed-examined Solis on his thoughts about his service in the Marines versus the Army, as well as if the “fog of war” would obligate a soldier to commit a murder/gang rape. Solis vehemently denied this, stating that the soldier would “be obligated to not comply with an unlawful order.”

The next “batter” to step up to the “plate” was Andrew Horne. Once again, Wolff had his witness take the jury through their background info. He was a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Marine Corp for 26 years, having finished up in Iraq. He also made the court aware that he had reviewed multiple documents regarding this case, and also interviewed co-defendant James Barker and Eric Lauzier. Darren Wolff questioned him on Green’s assisting with the medical evacuation of Britt and Lopez. Horne stated that there had been a discussion between officials to formally recognize and award Green for his heroism, but admitted that through his study of related investigation documents, he determined that Green was never actually acknowledged for his heroism. He also testified that of all his experience in the military, 1st Platoon had "by far" the most extraordinary casualties, in the shortest amount of time, as well as being exposed to more threats than any other platoon he’d ever seen. He brought up the lack of hot food for the soldiers, and their lengthy 21 day rotation, and the lack of protection equipment, “I’ve never seen that kind of disregard for a platoon.”

Darren Wolff finished with asking Horne what his personal thoughts were on doing three man IED sweeps in the morning(something the four defendants in this case were required to do)… he termed it as a “suicide mission.” He would later add that whenever he would leave his garrison(while serving in Iraq) he would be traveling in no less than six armored vehicle(humvee) caravan, contrasting the pity in comparing his enforced travel strategy with the former soldier’s IED sweeps.

For the cross, Marisa Ford forced Horne to admit that he only interviewed Barker and Lauzier. She also questioned him on the conduct and it’s inconsistencies with the MOS(mission operation specialty AKA mission). She showed Horne the “15-6” investigation report which Horne had reviewed prior to his testimony. In a “15-6” , an objective and unrelated investigator documents his/her legal investigation about higher-scale events involving the Army and it's soldiers, and it in part looks at leadership. Ford pointed out that “no one” that the investigator interviewed said that they had any issue with the leadership. But when Darren Wolff came back for re-direct, he noted that Captain Goodwin requested support three times and that Colonel Kunk said that Goodwin wasn’t properly using the resources he’d already been given. As a result, the investigator recommended the removal of Captain Goodwin.

The defense brought Jim Isclaw to the stand. At entry, Isclaw winked at Green when their eyes met. Isclaw, a native of Alvarado, TX, is an assistant football coach, golf coach, and teacher at Alvarado High School, and has been there for 23 years. To be quite frank, he’s a good ol’ country boy, and he’s got the persona of one as well. In his face, you can see the hours/days/years spent in the hot(understatement) Texan sun, calling plays and yelling at players. The attorney got straight to the point by beginning with “Do you remember Steven Green?” Isclaw immediately fired back with “I’ll never fergetim…there’s some kids you just don’t forget.” He spoke of meeting Steven in the summer of his freshman year for the football team’s two-a-day workouts during the summer. He spoke of Green living with his uncle, David. He highlighted on his memory of green: his far and few between class/school absences, “he had very good attendance…in fact I did some research and he only had four absences that entire year,” and about his personality as he remembered it, “he was a very likable guy, very enjoyable, he was easy to spot and when you did see him you could count on him to put a smile on your face.” He told of Green being a typical “knucklehead” and getting into small trouble. Defendant Green couldn’t help but to laugh. He spoke of Green’s unfaltering attendance at the varsity games, “he never missed a game.” He told of Green’s undying sense of humor, “he was a funny guy, he’d do this one leg chicken dance at all the pep rallies.” This humor/dance would become a recurring theme throughout the rest of the days’ testimony. He gave the courtroom a laugh when he spoke of Green’s “lack of” athletic ability in playing wide receiver. The jury and audience was shown a picture from the yearbook of Green on the football field, “looking for an opening” against Arlington Heights, to which Isclaw commented, “If he had the ball against Arlington Heights…. We were either way ahead or way behind,” bringing a few chuckles. Wolff began a difficult line of questioning in the witnesses by asking Isclaw “If Green were to be executed, what impact would that have on you?” Isclaw visibly thought about his answer, and you could almost see his stomach churning as he responded, “It’d….it would break my heart…(pausing)…he’s one of my own. 185 days of school to get to know him, I know that don’t seem like much but he was always one that I liked and remembered…I’d be saddened…(pause)…I believe it’d crush me.” No cross from the prosecution.

The next witness was Chase Bentley, a 24 year old from Lovett, Texas. He just completed his Masters Degree in Civil Engineering last week, and is already engaged with a wedding on December 14th, he told the court. He spoke of meeting Green during his junior year of high school, when Green was only a freshman(Green only attended Alvarado for his freshman year). As a requirement, football players must run track in the spring, which was where Green and Bentley met. When asked what his impression of Green was, he quickly spoke of having “only great memories. He was just one of the fellas” He spoke of Green being “the class clown….this guy was funny.” When asked about his track running ability, Bentley grinned profusely for a few seconds before eluding to his opinion that “well…he was fun to watch, let’s just put it that way.” Once again, his testimony ended with what his thoughts would be if Green were to be executed, “I couldn’t imagine…(long, thoughtful pause)…he lost his father and….I can’t imagine that with a set predetermined date and…” His testimony ended there, again with no cross examination.

The next witness to be called to the stand was Cody Ray. Like Isclaw, he too, could be considered a good ol' country boy, with the blue plaid button down and blue jeans with cowboy boots to prove it. He spoke of being a manager at an oil reserve in Midland, Texas. He first told a story of Green getting headbutted in the nose before practice one day, and how Green never “gave up” who it was who’d given him a bloody nose and t-shirt, and how he proceeded to wear his bloody t shirt throughout the day.

He, like others, spoke of Green’s “very good” sense of humor. He told a story to the amount of, “you know when you tell a joke that’s a knee slapper to you, it’s just hilarious for you but no one else seems to get it? Well Steve would always laugh, no matter what, no matter how stupid the joke.” He told more stories of Green “perfecting” the chicken dance during his year at Alvarado and smashing “case upon case” of soda can on his head, “he was an entertainer lemme tell ya.” He spoke of having the same attitude as Green, “we were knuckleheads, we got into trouble that 14 and 15 year olds get into.” He also talked about Green living with him and his family off and on throughout the year. “I tell you what, that boy can eat like it ain’t no body's bidness. My family can eat, my mother cooks us big meals because of that, but you know he can put my dad to shame.” Wolff then proceeded to ask if he still considered Green a friend, and he responded, “Absolutely. He is welcome at my house any time.”

The next witness was Joni Ray. As you probably already figured out(c'mon, put it together) she is the mother of the aforementioned witness, Cody. She was tearful throughout her testimony. She talked about taking Steve home from football practice and going out to eat after the games. She said he “was very respectful, and extremely mannerly…said ‘yes ma’am and ‘no ma’am’ all the time, always picked up after ‘imself took out the trash.” She told the court that Green was always thankful for her cooking, “oh yes he loved my cookin’.” When asked what her relationship was, tears welling up in her eyes, she painstakingly stated that “he’s like one of my children… I remember the sweetest…him walking in and asking ‘what’s for dinner?!’… I can see him outside playing and riding bikes to this day.” Defendant Green succeeded in trying to keep a straight face during this but, more importantly, you could tell he had to try.

Next up to bat was Daniel Carr. Carr grew up in Midland, TX, and is still there working as an instrument technician. He spoke of meeting Steve in the fall of 1992 after he met Green’s mother, Roxanne. They married in July of 1993. He spoke of working extra hours in the following years, and with Roxanne working nights, they weren’t home a lot for their three kids. “Roxy was always…she had a lot of friends and she was always out with them or out shopping, and she preferred the night job because of the money.” He remembered fighting with Roxanne about the money situation and her night jobs, adding that “[he] regret[s] doing that in front of the kids,” as well as being verbally abusive. Defendant Green looked down.

He talked about becoming more and more at odds with Roxanne and how he began to feel that Steve and himself were the “outsiders” of the family. “He felt left out of the affection of his mother,” when her affection for brothers Doug and Danny was brought up. “Her patience with him was a lot shorter,” he testified. He also spoke of Doug’s nickname for Steve, “Demon Spawn,” and also of more than one incident where Doug’s friends held Steve down while Doug allegedly “gave Steve a beating.” According to Carr, Green always did “okay” in school. He told the jury that he separated with Roxanne in 2001, and that shortly afterward Green had a falling out with her as well. Green then wanted to join the Army, which Carr assisted Green in doing so. The first time these particular facts have come to light, Green had to attend a Zion Christian Academy and achieve a “simplified” high school diploma to get his misdemeanor alcohol possession charges waived so that he could join the Army. When asked the same question attorneys had asked of others, he responded, “I’ll always stay in touch with him. In my heart, he’s my son and he always will be.”

The final witness for the day was Allma Ruth Thomas. She spoke of Green being friends with her son, skateboarding and playing video games. “He was like a son of my own.” She talked about having an open house to all kids, laughing as she said “we were all buddies.” On Green’s personality at that time, she told the jury that “He’s a very…outgoing kid.” On Green’s sense of humor, like others, she agreed. “Oh yes, he was the clown of them all.” She told a story of selling Green his first car, a 1981 Oldsmobile, and of Green, in typical high school fashion(I myself can testify to this), calling it “his pimp mobile.” Like others she stated that she felt like a mother figure to Green. “I treated him like my own as I did every other kid.” She would later testify that “He was a good kid, always looking for some way to help. He had the dreams of a kid, he wanted to be president.”

When Darren Wolff replied by mentioning the beyond-serious crimes that Green has been charged with and Green’s ineligibility to become President at present, she, like the previous mom, became tearful. “It’s somethin’ I’d never dreamed of… I still love ‘im with all my heart.” Wolff asked her what this felt like to her. She broke down crying, as if already mourning Green’s impending imprisonment, “Well…,” looking directly at the jury, “what do your kids mean to you? You’ll always love them, and you always forgive them no matter what, and try to help them, and hope that things get better for ‘em.” This elicited some small reaction from nearly everyone in the courtroom. Wolff repeated something he had done with all the other witnesses, asking if “[they] would like to stay in contact with Steven Green, even while in prison?” All had furiously agreed, if not begged. Allma Thomas finished her testimony by crying a little more as she told a story of Green asking her if she minded the collect calls and having to pay for them, to which she tearfully replied that “no I don’t mind, I’ll never mind no matter if he just wants to say hi or hear someone’s voice that he can trust or anything…(long pause before mustering the energy to end with)...I feel like I’m in a nightmare and that this child is in a nightmare and that no one can escape it, not even God.” Green, appearing speechless in his maroon sweater vest, looked down.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Combat Incapable

Day 11

The penalty phase continues.
Private Green and Private Eric Heath(a good friend) just after graduating from basic training

Both lot and little happened today. When court reconvened shortly after 9 AM, Dr. Ruben Gur was called to the stand. Obviously a man of intelligence, Gur spoke of his studies on brain function and behavior, and of his studies at the Hebrew University in Israel, Michigan State, Stanford, and his current residency at the University of Pennsylvania; and you had better believe he's got the collegiate proffesor's accent to back it up(see for yourself in the video below, edit: video only so that you can understand his accent...nothing to do with the trial)->

Dr. Gur spent the first hour of his testimony working with defense attorney Pat Bouldin in giving the court audience a High school Biology 101 les
son on the brain and it's various parts and functions. He took us on a tour of the brain.

Not word for word: "Green has frontal lobe damage....particularly on ze left side.[According to Gur] This means Green has difficulty making decisions, and does not work well under disorganiza
tion nor without being told what to do. He is or would be happy to follow a leader because he doesn't want to be pressured. He works well in a structured environment."

When asked if he thought Green would do well in the military, judging by Green's MRI, Dr. Gur agreed. "What about in prison?" Bouldin questioned. "With the structure...yes, without structure you can expect trouble." Again, more defense strategy in trying to save their client's life. On cross, Jim Lesousky questioned Gur on how Green could be "more prone to act on his impulses" when the four soldiers "sat around playing cards and planning the rape." For redirect, Bouldin brought out Green's seeking leadership as opposed to taking leadership as a response.

The defense's next witness was Dr. Gre
g Simolke, seen pictured here.

Simolke is Steven Green's uncle, he is an obstetrician in Marion, North Carolina. He talked about the family. His sister, Roxanne, is Steven's mother(expect to hear from her soon). He told the court of Steven's older brother Doug, and his younger brother Danny. Whe
n describing Roxanna, Steven's mom, he paused for a minute before answering that she is "a 'live in the moment' type of person,'... someone acts on impulse and doesn't give a lot of thought [to the consequences]." He said that he had always known her personality made it hard to raise kids, "I have a polar opposite personality to hers and even I'm having trouble raising kids." He talked about how Roxanna always worked a lot at night and wasn't home much for her kids. The next subject was Steven himself.
Steven at a younger age

You could see the emotion growing in Simolke's face and demeanor. He spoke of Steven, Doug, and Danny not having many rules. When asked about Doug's "being tough" on Steve, he testified that "Doug...was hard on Steve...(pause) felt like that...wore on Steve. Doug was sort of..." At this point, Dr. Simolke broke down crying and had to pause for a few minutes to regain his composure. He was given some water and he continued. "Doug was sort charge, but he was too young to manage Steve." Bouldin asked what his(Simolke's) thoughts were on Green and he "generally..I felt sorry for Steve. I felt that he wasn't completely normal....nothing drastic or super unusual...he was generally left out [throughout] his life. (pauses...more tears) Nothing ever worked out for him, he had a black cloud hanging over him..(pause)..I just didn't think life was workin' out for him." During all of this, Green was noticed staring straight ahead.

Simolke testified that he wouldn't have called Steven Green a leader. "No....I don't want to be offensive...he wasn't a leader...anyone who knows Steve wouldn't say he was. He's a follower." Simolke testified about Green living with him for a few months, maintaining a C-average, before realizing that he was so far behind in school that wouldn't be able to graduate high school that year with the rest of his classmates; after which dropping out and moving back to his hometown of Midland, TX where he got his GED.

Simolke spoke of his memories of Steve, one of beginning a tandem bike riding relationship after Steven was denied from the football team for bad grades. He told the jury that he "was prouder at Steven's military basic training graduation than any other time." He too testified that he thought Steve "could make a life for himself in prison, he's a no needs guy, he doesn't ask for much and he adapts to his circumstances well." During this, the paralegal at the defense team was wiping her eyes.

Lieutenant Colonel Karen Marrs made her second appearance next. She was called to testify over things that the defense was not allowed to cover in the guilty phase of the trial. She testified that she told Colonel Kunk that 1st Platoon's mental health status was "red," or "combat incapable." She also admitted that Kunk was aware of the hostility and vengeance that was prominent in the 1st Platoon. Kunk recommended the platoon get some rest, according to Marrs. On cross, Lesousky asked Marrs if it was 1st Platoon or Bravo Company that was "combat incapable," to which she replied that Bravo Company was status red, but "1st Platoon had it the worst."

Dr. Pablo Stewart was called to the stand last. He is a professor at UCSF with a specialty in PTSD, psychiatry, and alcohol/substance abuse. He mainly testified that while Col. Marrs had followed her psychiatric guidelines "to the nail," she did not give a correct diagnosis of then Pfc. Green. He also testified that the Army's psychiatric standards at that time did not meet the "standard of care" for soldiers like those in 1st Platoon.

Expect more family to testify in the upcoming days.

-John Scruton, who was Green's Army comrade that testified yesterday, was present in the courtroom today. An exchange of mouthed-words was seen, with a few head nods and grins and laughs to boot.

(EDIT @ 12:15AM 5/13/2009): I forgot to put what he was wearing today and I've received emails complaining about this. I am fascinated. Blue polo and khakis. He also never rolls his sleeves up soas not to show his tattoos.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Hangin' in the balance

Day 10
(NOTE: This is by far the longest blog yet, a lot happened today, and in trying to give you, the reader, a play-by-play of what's going on, it's hard to leave things out and still get the whole picture. Grab a cup of coffee or something!)

Artist Sketch of the proceedings(better picture to come)

Opening statements in the sentencing phase of USA v. Green were heard today, along with more testimony from various Iraqi family members.

And so it began. Marisa Ford of the prosecution opened up by speaking about murdering children and how terrified Abeer Al-Janabi must have been before she was killed. “The murder of a child is an unspeakable act, especially an innocent child, which all children are. Abeer’s last moments must have been filled with terror as she was raped while her parents and little sister were shot in the room next door. And then, by one of the men who was sent there to protect them, she was murdered.”
Lots of legal jargon made it’s way into the opening statements. Marisa Ford reminded the jury that they are encouraged and in fact, required to reconsider the evidence which was heard in the guilty phase of the trial. She spoke of imposing the death penalty, and how doing so requires that they, the jury, by law, must outline and note the aggravating circumstances, especially in the death of Abeer, which according to Ford was committed in an “especially heinous, cruel, and depraved manner.”

She repeated how the four soldiers committed the crime on March 12th, 2006, and reiterated how they agreed on the plan, changed clothes, “brought weapons and took tools to complete their mission,” and how they worked to cover up the evidence. She told the jury how they would hear of the impact on the victims, and how the Al-Janabi family was like many families from both Iraq and “right here in Paducah, Kentucky.”
She ended her opening by elaborating on a quote from Winston Churchill: “All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.” Ford defiantly expressed, “The defendant Steven Dale Green failed to live up to his duty, he didn’t show mercy to Abeer, he took away the two remaining brother’s hope for a normal life, he doesn’t deserve mercy.”

Pat Bouldin was nervous at the beginning of his opening, saying that he’s “never had a man’s life, nor his liberty, in [his] hands.” He reiterated a quote that “in peace time sons bury their fathers, in war fathers bury their sons.” He began to talk about the brothers who had to bury their brothers, referring to the Army and the brotherhood within. He talked about the psychiatrist Marrs who said that losing a military brother is “like losing a child.” He thanked the jury for being so attentive, noting that the Defense team respected the verdict. Also a big point, Bouldin remembered the entire trial in saying “Steven has never denied his actions on March 12th, 2006.”

He talked about broadening the scope of the evidence for the jury to “help the jury understand the context.” He listed the two(2) possible sentences, which are life without the possibility of parole, and the death sentence. He took a turn for the empathetic in saying, “these sentences are both the death penalty...because Steven will die in prison.” Trying to save his client’s life, Bouldin continued, “The decision is about if he will die of natural causes, or if he’ll be taken to a room, by government officials, employees, and sat in front of some witnesses, and killed.

“Justice must be served,” he would later say, “but justice must be incorporated with fairness. Steven Green did not do this by himself.” He spoke of the leadership issues and in trying to make connections, saying, “Scott Wendelsdorf(D) is my boss—I do what he tells me. But,” he added, “in the Army, if you don’t do as you’re told, you go to prison.”

He told of Green’s lying about being the only person who committed the crimes, “while Steve protected his ‘friends,’ they were plotting against him to shift the blame from themselves.” He reminded the jury that Cortez, Barker, and Spielman will be able to see a parole board in 7 years, by military court martial, but the “ring leader,” is in Federal Court, sentenced to die in prison, one way or another. “Is it really fair?” Bouldin beckoned. “ The letter head for the co defendants will say ‘parole board’. The letter for (points to) Green? Death.” Defendant Green looked down.

He touched on Green’s childhood, saying he “didn’t have the greatest childhood, it was a broken home.” There “was a fair amount of drinking, of neglect,” he told. He talked about Green’s needing a psychiatric follow up and how he didn’t get it. He mentioned the lack of leadership. “In the prosecution’s closing they talked about respect for life…yet here we are, debating the life of this man.” He played on the empathy once again, saying, “All of you have the choice of life or death, any one of you has the power of life…. Green will die in prison, but by whose hand?” He went through some of the lawyer jargon with aggravating circumstances, etc, before ending with “The 1st Platoon…Bravo Company has suffered enough deaths…do we have to kill one more?” Green stood solemnly as the jury exited.

The prosecution completed its case shortly after lunch. They called four total witnesses to the stand, who were all related to the family members. Each Iraqi minus young Ahmed greeted the court with a “may peace be upon you,” before beginning. The first was “Amina” Al-Janabi (I know that is incorrect spelling so if you can correct me, leave a comment or email me!). She was Qassim Hamza’s older sister. Qassim was Abeer’s father. She spoke of having a good relationship with Qassim, of him having a normal life, mostly directed towards giving his family a good life. She broke down crying while on the witness stand, with tissues in hand, but she spoke strongly. “What I say about him…isn’t enough. He cared for all of our family.” She went on to talk about how Qassim named his two daughters, Abeer and Hadeel, after her (Amina’s) children of the same name. She told of Fahkyriah(Abeer’s mother) being a strong, powerful woman. She talked about Abeer’s pride. “She was proud of being young, and she was proud of the freedom her father gave her. She was spoiled, her father never suppressed her.” She almost 'boarded a tangent train', her voice elevating as she said, “their life is destroyed currently, by a crime committed against their family, the kids don’t go to school…” She spoke of young Mohammed and Ahmed running up to her “countless” times, devastated over their loss, and how they “want to suicide.” Green’s eyes widened as he heard this.

When asked how she, along with her family and the boy’s grandmother, had tried to care for the boys, she “tries to care and help, but that’s not going to be their mother and father for them.” A picture of four young apparently Iraqi children was shown to the jury, and she named off Abeer, Mohammed, Ahmed, and Hadeel. This is the first time anyone has seen a picture of Abeer(at a different age) other than the one on her I.D. card. The defense didn’t present any kind of cross-examination for “Amina,” or for any of the other witnesses.

Mohammed Al-Janabi testified next, wearing an Under-Armor workout shirt. He was stout, lips pursed. He talked about his father’s memory; “I remember when we played together…when we would take rides in the car with Ahmed to the market.” Brian Skaret asked Mohammed if his father bought him everything he wanted at the market, and Mohammed grinned with a “yes.” “That sounds good!” Skaret added, allowing for some humor in the courtroom. He liked studying and going to school before the incident, but Mohammed no longer goes to school; when asked why, he said, “Because I no longer have the mood to study and go to school.” When questioned about his life now, he said things you might expect, “life with my grandmother is different, my parents aren’t like anyone else…their principles and how good they were to me.” Again, no cross-examination.

Ahmed Al-Janabi was next, appearing apprehensive. He told of how the family slept in the same room together. He talked a lot about Hadeel. “She would play with me. I found her one day in the courtyard and she asked me ‘why aren’t you playing with me Ahmed?’ We played hide-n-seek a lot.” He told the court how Qassim taught him to play soccer and helped him with homework, and how Fahrkyiah played with him and put him to bed. He also admitted that he was the troublemaker of the family, with help from Hadeel. He told of Abeer helping their mother with the cooking. When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, he said “A policeman, so I can protect myself, so I can protect my family, my community.” The youngster also already wants a wife.

Abu Farras testified next, his second time here in Paducah. He is Ahmed and Mohammed’s uncle. He reiterated many points already made by his family. He told of Fahkriyah’s dreaming of having a house next to his, and the care and work she put into her fruit orchard. He spoke of Qassim’s dreams of being the best family man, “but fate didn’t let him do that” he muttered. He told of Hadeel’s dreaming of school, and how he would give her toys when she had no money for them. “She wanted to have a fun filled life, but fate didn’t allow her to have fun, either.”

He told of Abeer’s thin, lanky features, and her occasionally problematic asthma. “She had the dreams other girls had, marriage, kids, just like any American family would here, but fate also led her a different direction,” pausing before adding “but…again, you can judge what happened.” He told of the horrible fits Mohammed and Ahmed had, how they wouldn’t talk for a long time and how they no longer have futures because they have quit school. “If they had died with their family it would be better for them.” He told of how HE has moved houses and neighborhoods because of the PTSD-like fear he contracted after the events of March 12th. He finished by reading a statement, perhaps speaking for all the Iraqis, speaking that he “wanted to thank everyone for the kindness they have shown us in this country, there are great people in this country. We now have a very different, clear view of this country.” He asked for justice for his nephews, and wished peace yet again.

After the lunch break, the defense began its case. SFC(Sergeant First Class) Philip Miller was called first. Attorney Darren Wolff, ever the professional, spoke with Miller about the conditions in Iraq, but not about the leadership. Miller, linear and descriptive, stated that since he was still in the army, he did not want to put his future in jeopardy by commenting on leaders who he might see again(remember this during Eric Lauzier’s testimony which is a few paragraphs down). Miller, with an attitude of someone who has seen a lot, reiterated several points already touched upon by the co-defendants, “the big issue was that you didn’t know who was an insurgent and who wasn’t. We were going out on missions without knowing why… so the causalities caused a lot of [disruption]. The big picture of what we were trying to do there didn’t make it down to us.”

He talked about seeing the emotion in Green’s face. He also highlighted that the conditions were in part due to the Army’s “armchair quarterback” style of command. “People were making decisions that weren’t actually THERE.” He repeatedly noted that “everyone deals with stuff differently.” He talked about how HE was blamed for Casica and Nelson’s deaths. “I don’t know if any of you have ever felt that…it’s unexplainable… to be told that YOU were responsible for the deaths of someone YOU and EVERYONE else knew…it sends a chill down your spine that you never want to feel again.” He said that the deaths were “the breaking point” for Steven Green. Jim Lesousky didn’t have much for cross-examination. He questioned Miller on the breaking point, to which Miller replied “Okay, everyone has the point in time where it’s like ‘okay I can go another day,’ and then you just snap…without any warning. Steven snapped.” Defendant Green bit his nails. When asked if Cortez failed in his leadership, he stated flatly, “hell yes, Cortez failed.”

The most controversial person to testify yet, Eric Lauzier was called to the stand. He testified about leadership, because he HAS been discharged from the Army and will suffer no repercussions from his testimony. He nearly vilified the army:

When asked about Sgt. Fenlason(the commanding officer over the co-defendants who wasn't present at TCP2 on March 12th), he appeared to become testy, saying “that man was tactically incompetent. He had what, sixteen years of service, with only four of those years spent ‘on the line’. He never fired his weapon and he’d never been fired at, he hid out at TCP1 the entire time, in fact I think he told me ‘I’ve never seen an insurgent before.’ He was a ‘hider-and-slider.’”(A hider-and-slider is a term used to describe an Army officials who “hide” from combat while sliding up the ranks). He was asked about the Combat Stress program and it’s reputation. He told the court that he overheard Cortez ask Fenlason for permission to go to Combat Stress. According to Lauzier, Fenlason’s response to Cortez was “you want to take that punk ass route? Go right ahead.”

When asked about Captain Goodwin, he testified that “his hands were tied, he felt responsible for Britt and Lopez’ deaths so he was put on R&R.” On Britt’s leadership, he stated that he was “the best lieutenant I ever had, he was a West Point graduate and he listened to his NCOs.” Lauzier got very frustrated when asked about Lt. Col. Kunk. “he would micromanage, he wouldn’t listen to what the NCOs were telling him… he would absolutely berate any officer who tried to say things like ‘we don’t have enough manpower.’ He threw lives away…when he showed up after Casica and Nelson got killed he said he ‘was tired of First Platoon feeling sorry for itself.

The defense’s last witness was one of Green’s best friends from the Army. He spoke of the “do as you’re told” Army style. He went through basic training and employed at Fort Campbell with Green. When he told a story of someone playing a prank on Green by shaving his right eyebrow just before a family visiting day, Green showed more emotion than he ever had before, grinning and chuckling at the memory.

-Dave Alsup from CNN was present in the courtroom today, as was a string reporter for the New York Times. Expect some of the European Media to show up as the week progresses, and possibly Al-Jazeera, the Arabic news network.
-A sketching artist was in the courtroom as well.
-Abeer means the smell of a flower, and Hadeel means the sound of water.
-Green ALWAYS listens to the sidebar(legal talk between judge and prosecution and defense/objections) via headphones. We, the audience, cannot hear what is being said.