Witness: Ex-soldier had PTSD, was unfit for combat
PADUCAH, Ky. — A former soldier who could be sentenced to death should have been removed from a combat zone known as the “Triangle of Death” three months before he raped and killed a teenage girl in Iraq, a psychiatrist testified Tuesday.
Dr. Pablo Stewart, a psychiatrist at the University of California-San Francisco, told jurors that former Pfc. Steven Dale Green exhibited clear signs of post-traumatic stress disorder and acute stress disorder when he met with an Army counselor in December 2005.
Stewart, testifying for Green’s defense, said Lt. Col. Karen Marrs gave Green a sleep medication and sent him back into combat.
“Her work with Pfc. Green … does not meet the acceptable standard of care,” Stewart said.
Stewart’s testimony came on the second day of the penalty phase of Green’s trial for the rape and murder of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim al-Janabi and the shooting death of her family in Mahmoudiya, Iraq, about 20 miles south of Baghdad.
The nine-woman, three-man panel convicted Green last week of multiple counts of rape and murder. The same jurors will decide if Green should be sentenced to death or imprisoned for life.
Jurors also heard Marrs, a nurse practitioner, defend her treatment.
Green showed no signs of planning to act on his often repeated desire to kill Iraqi civilians after several fellow soldiers were killed, Marrs said. They were serving in a region of Iraq called the “Triangle of Death” because of numerous U.S. troop casualties.
Marrs said she told Green he wasn’t a “monster” for having homicidal thoughts in “monstrous conditions.” Under questioning from Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Lesousky, she said Green “recognized the consequences for acting on impulses.”
Stewart, who reviewed Marrs’ work but didn’t treat Green, said Green and other soldiers with similar symptoms seemed to have been left in combat to satisfy the need for battlefield troops.
“She’s trying to please her command and at the same time treat her patients,” Stewart said. “I can see that’s an almost impossible job.”
Jurors also heard from Ruben Gur, director of neuropsychology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, who reviewed a 2008 MRI and found Green has brain damage. People with such injuries have “major difficulties” restraining their impulses, he said.
“They won’t have the brakes and they’ll be easily aroused into action,” said Gur, who is not a medical doctor.
One of Green’s uncles, Dr. Greg Simolke of Marion, N.C., tearfully testified that the former soldier grew up in a home with few rules after his parents divorced.
“I don’t think he had a good chance at a regular family life,” Simolke said. “It’s like, sometimes he had a black cloud over him.”
Prosecutors on Monday told jurors that Green’s crime was so heinous it warranted a death sentence. Defense attorneys said that Green didn’t act alone and that none of the other soldiers who participated in the attack faced a death sentence.
Those soldiers received prison sentences of up to 90 years in military court but could be paroled in seven years.
Green, 24, of Midland, Texas, is being tried in civilian court because charges were brought in the case after he was discharged from the Army. Green had been stationed in Iraq with the Fort Campbell, Ky.-based 101st Airborne Division.
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