Steven D. Green

Steven D. Green
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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.

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