Steven D. Green

Steven D. Green
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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.

1 comment:

  1. Though he deserves the death penalty, there needs to be some degree of balance in the sentences given to other men.

    It is simply not fair to execute one defendent when his co defendent who is guilty of the same crimes will be eligible for parole in ten years.