FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - A soldier convicted of rape and murder in the death of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the slayings of her family was sentenced Saturday to 110 years in prison.
The sentence was part of a plea agreement attorneys for Pfc. Jesse Spielman had made with prosecutors that limited the number of years he could serve in prison, regardless of the jury's recommendation.
Spielman was convicted late Friday of rape, conspiracy to commit rape, housebreaking with intent to rape and four counts of felony murder.
Military prosecutors did not say Spielman took part in the rape or murders but alleged that he went to the house knowing what the others intended to do and served as a lookout.
Spielman, 23, of Chambersburg, Pa., received the longest sentence of four soldiers who have been convicted. Three other soldiers pleaded guilty under agreements with prosecutors for their roles in the assault and were given sentences ranging from five to 100 years.
He was charged in connection with the March 12, 2006, rape and slaying of Abeer Qassim al-Janabi and the killings of her family. The attack took place in Mahmoudiya, a village about 20 miles south of Baghdad.
Spielman had pleaded guilty on Monday to lesser charges of conspiracy to obstructing justice, arson, wrongfully touching a corpse and drinking.
Prosecutors rested their case Thursday amid struggles to overcome a fellow soldier's recanting of a story that Spielman acted as a lookout during the attack last year.
Spc. James Barker, who has admitted his own role in the assault, said in earlier testimony that he had allowed investigators to draft sworn statements for him that implicated Spielman in the crime.
Barker testified Wednesday that several portions of the document were untrue, including references to Spielman's role in the conspiracy to attack the family and his knowledge of plans to rape the girl.
But another soldier convicted in the attack, Sgt. Paul E. Cortez, testified that Spielman stood guard as his fellow soldiers raped the girl. Cortez said Spielman was within a few feet of the others as they held down the screaming girl but did nothing to stop them.
Barker, Cortez and another soldier, Pfc. Bryan L. Howard, pleaded guilty for their roles in the slayings and received sentences of five to 100 years under plea agreements with prosecutors.
Steven D. Green, who was discharged from the Army before being charged, faces a possible death sentence when he is tried in federal court in Kentucky. He has pleaded not guilty to charges that include murder and sexual assault.
Barker and Cortez have given investigators conflicting statements about whether Spielman knew of the plan to rape the girl and was present when they discussed it over swigs from bottles of whiskey and gin mixed with energy drinks, according to testimony.
During their courts-martial, Barker and Cortez testified they took turns raping the girl while Green shot and killed her mother, father and younger sister. Green shot the girl in the head after raping her, they said.
The girl's body was set on fire with kerosene to destroy the evidence, according to previous testimony.
This was a particularly grisly and sinister crime, preplanned and premeditated; this was evil.
If Muslims had done this to an infidel family, it would be all over the blogosphere in the blogs I frequent.
I want to be very clear that I am against these outrages, no matter who commits them, as I'm sure my "esteemed cohorts" are as well.
I also want to make very clear the difference between what America stands for and what the Islamic terrorists stand for:
When American soldiers are accused of such a crime, there is an investigation, a fair trial, and, if convicted, the soldiers are punished severely.
When Islamic terrorists commit such outrages, as they routinely do, they are praised by many of their holy men.
That difference, in and of itself, is worth fighting for.
May God bless all those military personnel who are serving honorably and well in defense of our great nation,
May God bless America.