August 4, 2007 in Nation/World

Soldier guilty in Iraqi girl’s rape, murder

Ryan Lenz Associated Press
 

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – A military jury Friday found a soldier guilty of rape and murder in the slayings of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and her family.

Jurors deliberated much of Friday evening before convicting Army Pfc. Jesse Spielman, 22, of conspiracy to commit rape, rape, housebreaking with intent to commit rape and four counts of felony murder.

Spielman, of Chambersburg, Pa., was charged in connection with the March 12, 2006, slaying of the girl and the killings of her family. The attack took place in Mahmoudiya, a village about 20 miles south of Baghdad.

Military prosecutors did not say Spielman took part in the rape or murders but alleged he went to the house knowing what the others intended to do and served as a lookout. Spielman had pleaded guilty Monday to lesser charges of conspiracy to obstructing justice, arson, wrongfully touching a corpse and drinking.

His sister, Paige Gerlach, screamed: “I hate the government. You people put him (in Iraq), and now this happened.”

Defense attorneys left the courthouse immediately following the verdict and could not immediately be reached for comment.

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.

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