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December 8th, 2006 - Attorneys for Soldier Accused of Rape, Murder Ask for Donations

News article by the Associated Press

Summary of the Mahmudiya Massacre

Attorneys for Soldier Accused of Rape, Murder Ask for Donations


By Ryan Lenz

Associated Press

December 8, 2006


The family of a Pennsylvania soldier who could be executed if convicted in the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl wants help paying his legal bills, his defense attorneys said Friday.


Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman has been told he must provide experts and investigators at his own expense, but only if a judge decides to let them testify, attorneys said.


Nancy Hess, Spielman's grandmother, told the Associated Press on Friday that family members remain supportive of Spielman and believe strongly in his innocence.


"I know he didn't do this," Hess said through tears. "He's a good kid."


Spielman, a 22-year-old native of Chambersburg, Pa., has received numerous offers for assistance, said attorney Craig Carlson. His law firm plans to launch a Web page soon called that will give people a place to donate.


The request for donations comes after the military declined to provide witnesses, including independent investigators and combat stress experts, that could be critical to Spielman's defense, Carlson said.


"Many of the things that you'd normally be able to do in a defense, if Jesse wants it, he's going to have to pay for it himself," Carlson said.


The military is not obligated to provide such witnesses, and a judge can reverse the order. But even then Spielman would be responsible for paying the bill.


Spielman, one of four soldiers charged in the March 12 assault in Iraq, is expected to plead innocent during an arraignment next week. A fifth person, former Army private Steven Green, is being tried in federal court on similar rape and murder charges.


One soldier, Spc. James P. Barker, pleaded guilty to the rape and murder charges last month in exchange for a lesser sentence. He was sentenced to 90 years in prison.


The killings in Mahmoudiya, a village about 20 miles south of Baghdad, were among the worst in a series of alleged attacks on civilians and other abuses by military personnel in Iraq.


The soldiers - all members of the 101st Airborne Division's 502nd Infantry Regiment - are accused of planning the attack after noticing the teenage girl at a checkpoint near the family's home.


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