A brother of a former U.S. soldier who was spared the death penalty has apologized to relatives of the Iraqi family the former soldier was convicted of murdering.
Steven Green was found guilty earlier this month of raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and murdering her, her parents and her 6-year-old sister. On Thursday, Green avoided the death penalty when a Kentucky jury could not reach a unanimous decision. Outside the courtroom, Doug Green said he was grateful that his brother would receive life in prison without parole. “I was incredibly relieved,” he said. “This is as good as it gets.” During the trial, relatives of the murder victims gave gripping testimony about how the crimes still haunt them. Some family members said their lives have been ruined and it would have been better if they’d also been killed. Doug Green offered an apology. “Our hearts and prayers are with you. We’re sorry. We’re sorry,” he said. “This has been hard for everybody involved. Not just my family, but the Iraqis. Everybody is going to need some healing.”
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The murders of members of the al-Janabi family occurred in 2006 near the city of Yusufiya, about 20 miles south of Baghdad. Green was tried in civilian court because he had been discharged from the Army by the time his crimes came to light. He was the last of four soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division convicted in the crimes and the cover-up that followed; the others were tried by a military court and imprisoned. Spc. James Barker, Sgt. Paul Cortez, Pfc. Jesse Spielman and Pfc. Bryan Howard received sentences ranging from 27 months to 110 years, with the possibility of parole in 10 years in the most severe cases. During the trial, defense attorneys called for the military to “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.” Doug Green agreed, saying the war changed his brother. “I think it is hard for any one of us to put on those shoes,” he said. “Unless you have been to Iraq and fought in that war, or fought in any war, it is impossible to know what they are going through and impossible to judge them.”