The War Profiteers - War Crimes, Kidnappings & Torture
May 14th, 2009 - Jurors Told about Ex-GIís Childhood at Trial
By Brett Barrouquere
May 14, 2009
Paducah, Ky. - A former soldier who could be sentenced to death for rape and murder in Iraq had a difficult childhood after his parents divorced and at times shuttled among friends and relatives, the man's stepfather testified Wednesday.
Relatives and former high school classmates described former Pfc. Steven Dale Green as someone trying to put together a family from relatives and friends after his parents divorced when he was 4.
Their testimony case on the third day of the penalty phase of Green's trial. He was convicted last week of raping and murdering 14-year-old Abeer Qassim al-Janabi and fatally shooting her family in a March 2006 attack at their home in Mahmoudiya, Iraq, about 20 miles south of Baghdad.
Earlier Wednesday, two former Marine officers testified in federal court that Green had an unusually stressful combat tour in a unit that suffered heavy casualties and didn't receive sufficient Army leadership.
Green first lived with his mother, who remarried in 1993, jurors heard. The man's stepfather, Daniel Carr, said the family moved frequently and Green's mother wasn't affectionate with her son.
"He felt he was left out of that department," Carr testified, adding the defendant lived variously with relatives or friends at times during high school.
By 2004, Green was determined to get into the military. Green obtained a high school diploma and joined the Army before heading to basic training in 2005, Carr added.
"He wanted that more than anything," Carr said.
Within six months, Pfc. Green deployed to Iraq with the Fort Campbell, Ky.-based 101st Airborne Division.
High school classmate Chase Bentley played football and ran track with Green. While Green wasn't the best athlete, Bentley told jurors he was a good teammate and one who was "fun to watch." His comment drew a smile from Green.
Another former classmate, Cody Ray, testified about a funny kid who amused friends by crushing cans on his head or playfully breaking into a "chicken dance."
"He perfected that dance," Ray said of his former classmate.
Green, 24, of Midland, Texas, is being tried in civilian court because charges were filed after he was discharged from the Army.
Retired Marine Lt. Col. Andrew Horne and former Marine lawyer Gary Solis testified Wednesday that stress from combat can impair a soldier's judgment and good leadership is needed to prevent criminal acts.
Horne, of Louisville, reviewed the Army's investigation into the attack, and offered expert assessment of the conditions Green served in. He told jurors that Green's small unit lost a high number of soldiers in a short time.
Enemy attacks killed two command sergeants, a lieutenant and a specialist in Green's unit during 12 days in December 2005.
"This unit suffered some of the most extraordinary casualties in a short period of time and were exposed to the worst threats and risk I've seen in my experience," said Horne, who served in Iraq in 2005.
Solis, who teaches law at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., said facing such stressful conditions can impair a soldier's judgment, especially when the unit lacks leadership.
"It's not long before judgment is degraded," said Solis, a veteran of two tours in Vietnam. "That's what leaders are for. To help soldiers."
Prosecutors on Monday told jurors that Green's crime was so heinous it warranted a death sentence. Defense attorneys said Green didn't act alone, and yet none of the other soldiers who participated in the attack faced a death sentence.
Three other soldiers are serving time in military prison for their roles in the attack, and testified against Green at his trial.
Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press.
By Brett Barrouquere
May 14, 2009
Paducah, Ky. - A former soldier who could be sentenced to death for rape and murder in Iraq had a chaotic childhood and little help from a mother who called him "spawn of the devil" when he was a baby, witnesses testified Thursday.
Clinical social worker Jan Vogelsang of Greenville, S.C., reviewed former Pfc. Steven Dale Green's family history and told jurors his mother, Roxanne Simolke, never wanted a child or bonded with her son.
Simolke called Green the "spawn of the devil," because of his fussiness as a baby, Vogelsang testified.
"It's hard to conceive what an infant would do to earn him that title," Vogelsang said.
Green's cousin, Susi Woosley of Argyle, Texas, testified Green grew up in homes filled with yelling people, clutter and very little parental direction.
"It was pretty much we could do whatever we wanted," said Woosley, 30. "Nothing was structured. I was always uneasy over there, even though I was having fun."
Both witnesses were called by defense attorneys trying to persuade jurors that Green, 24, of Midland, Texas, should be sentenced to life in prison rather than face a death sentence. The same jury convicted Green on May 7 of killing 14-year-old Abeer Qassim al-Janabi and shooting her family to death in March 2006, near Mahmoudiya, Iraq, about 20 miles south of Baghdad.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Russell told jurors they should have the case for deliberations by Wednesday. He then adjourned court until Monday, when the defense is expected to present more witnesses.
Vogelsang told jurors Green was intelligent, with an IQ measured at 121, but he had little opportunity to develop his skills because of a chaotic and abusive home life and little help from professionals.
That resulted in poor grades and likely prompted Green to drop out of high school in the 10th grade, Vogelsang said.
"When he was out of the chaos of his home ... he performed much differently," Vogelsang said.
Jurors previously heard from a collection of Green's high school classmates, friends and their parents. They testified that Green was effectively homeless through part of high school and had little to do with his mother or father.
Neither Simolke nor the defendant's father, John Green, has been called to testify.
Green, 24, of Midland, Texas, was assigned to the Fort Campbell, Ky.-based 101st Airborne Division when the crimes were committed. He's being tried in federal court in western Kentucky because he was discharged from the military before criminal charges were brought.
© 2009 The Associated Press
External link: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/tx/6424445.html
By Evan Bright
Steven Green Trial Blog
May 14, 2009
The defense continued and almost completed its case for the penalty phase.
The first witness was one Tammi Dehay. She has known Green for about 10 years, beginning with becoming friends with one of Green's cousins before she was introduced to him. She spoke of having an ongoing correspondence with Green, even during his imprisonment during the past 3 years. She said that Steven is "hilarious, he's one of the most brilliant people I know." Darren Wolff then asked her about her relationship with Green, to which she tearfully responded "he's my friend and I care about him deeply."
The next witness was a school teacher named Suzi Woolsey from Argyle, Texas. Pat Bouldin (D) asked Woolsey about her relationship with Green, she thoughtfully said "he's the son of my mother's brother," making them cousins. She spoke of occasional visits with Steven and his family when they were younger, mostly on weekends and often during the summer. She talked about her memories of playing with Green and his brother Doug at a young age, while her older sister babysat Danielle (or 'Dani'), their little sister, while the mother, Roxanne, was out at work.
She talked about their way of life, describing the family home, "there were lots of toys ... Roxanne's sewing equipment took up a lot of room ... it was kind of cluttered." She also remembered Roxanne and defendant Green's father separating. She herself testified that she didn't get along well with Roxanne, telling tales of being a pest to Roxy, making her frustrated and flustered. "I knew I didn't have to obey her and that I could get away with anything."
Getting to the important part of her testimony, Bouldin directed her to the general style of the Green family's way of life. Asked about the structure, she testified, "There wasn't any. I was always a little ... uneasy, while I was at their house." She talked about how her family was structured with rules, expectations, chores, and contrasted that by noting that none of these things existed in the Green household. She testified that as she got older, she learned that Roxanne had an affair with a local plumber, causing their divorce, and the later remarrying to Daniel Carr (who testified two days ago). She spoke of the home made movies, usually filmed on holidays, and how they stopped occurring after the divorce; her chances to spend time with Green and his siblings was greatly diminished.
She continued with more stories. She talked about spending the night at Roxanne and Daniel's new house in Clearlake, TX (they moved the family there after the divorce). She spoke of the house being dirty and very cluttered, and how Roxanne and Daniel weren't even home when she arrived. She told the jury that after she returned home, she had to shave her hair off after finding head lice, just before her senior year. According to her, this cause more riffs between her and her aunt.
She testified that when she visited the family when they lived in Seabrook, TX, the house appeared as if it hadn't been cleaned at all, as well how she only saw Roxanne once during her two day stay at the house. "Not only that but all three kids had at least one if not two friends over." She talked about Doug and his relationship with Steve, " Doug and his friends were mean to Steve ... they told him to shut up and were very physically and verbally abusive." She testified that she couldn't think of any sibling in any family that was as mean as Doug, and also about how Doug and his friends ganged up on Steve. "Roxanne was never around to stop the bullying like in other families," she commented. Danielle was injured by Doug's abuse thee separate times she told the court.
Pat Bouldin lead Woolsey to her opinion of Roxanne, who she said was "selfish, conceited ... she never put her kids first in any of her decisions." She told the court that Roxanne allowed Danielle to drop out of school in the 6th grade. "Doug and Dani were her favorites ... Doug could do what he wanted and Danielle was her princess on a pedestal." Bouldin then asked her how she would rate Roxanne as a mother on a scale of one to ten. Woolsey gave her a 2 out of 10. "What about Daniel Carr as a father?" "3 or 4 Ö maybe," Woolsey said. She said that she would "never" have classified the house as "loving."
As Green's life progressed, she spoke of hoping for his future. When he began discussing the military, she said she felt like "this is going to be a good thing." After he graduated from basic, they spoke on the phone, she told the court. "This was the first time he'd ever sounded like he respected someone ... he sounded changed." When she saw Green after his tour in Iraq, she said that he "was almost unrecognizable ... his eyes were sunken in, he was thinner than I'd ever seen him." She talked about Green's living with them for a short period, after his return to Iraq. "He didn't eat much, he didn't sleep much ... he seemed very uneasy." Pat Bouldin also questioned her about the current relationship between herself and Steve's brother Doug: "Well ... he calls when he needs something ... like a place to stay or something ... he doesn't hang around. Steve, he'll call me just to talk to me."
In ending his direct, Bouldin asked Woolsey on her thoughts of Green as a person. "He's so caring, loyal ... he's a nice, funny person." Like Wolff, Bouldin asked her if she would keep in contact with Green while imprisoned, she agreed. She stopped with "He was such an adorable child, just wanted a little attention ... he's like a little brother to me."
For cross-ex, Brian Skaret (P) just made the point that "Green had high potential, did he not?" and that he had opportunities "as most people do?" Woolsey agreed to both.
(Note: This witness testified for nearly 3 and a half hours and giving me seven pages of notes. As a reference, everything you see above this took about four pages. This witness was long winded to say the least, therefore what you see will be only the bigger points.)
The next witness was Jan Vogelsang, a clinical social worker and mental health expert, owning her own practice in Greenville, NC. She is licensed and verified. She began my talking about her job description ... "to do a bio-psychological social assessment." She spoke of reviewing "hundreds" of documents, relating to the case as well as Green's history and ancestry (see annotation #1 at the bottom for more detail).
She began by testifying that through her review, she found Steven Green "as a young child, had an enormous amount of potential, as well as many gifts that were left untouched and undiscovered due to neglect. He was also surrounded by an immense amount of chaos in his life ... but despite this, when things around him were calm, he too was calm. His behavior reflects his surroundings." She also mentioned that "he was a classic case of simply being born at the wrong time, in the wrong place, into the wrong family."
She began telling the tales of Green's ancestry. "They were a hard working family, a boot strappin' crew, they believed in service to their country and to their community." Green was very attentive during this portion of her testimony, behaving as if he was in a class, trying to learn his own history. She talked about Green's views of life in his earlier years, "he grew up with a view of life having the 50's traditions as in the TV show 'Happy Days,' so when his life was the complete opposite of that, it was detrimental to him." She talked about Green's extended family military history. She began talking about Roxanne, Green's mother. "Roxanne's family live in the South, they worked hard to see that each generation would be better than the last, but they also had a running theme of alcoholism and substance abuse." She mentioned Steven Green's grandfather killing himself after a particularly rough drinking binge. She talked about Roxanne's being spoiled throughout her life, as well as being the center of attention. She talked about her 'rebellious-ness', and her early experimentation and use of drugs (LSD, Valium, speed, coke Ö "anything she could get her hands on.Ē).
She got on the subject of Roxanne's marriage to John Green, with a history of how they arrived there. "They were an immature couple for their age Ö they lacked any real sense of growing up Ö they enjoyed the nightlife. They lacked the maturity to realize that drinking and partying at some point comes to a stop. They were more like kids than their own kids ... they reinforced each others drug and alcohol use."
She spoke about the unexpected pregnancy with Doug. She testified that when Doug was born, "Roxanne instituted a lifestyle change within herself." She calmed down with her partying, and began experimenting with various forms of religion (including "The Science of the Mayan Church"), she changed her haircut, and even had a baby shower. But, "after a year of being a homemaker and giving birth," Vogelslang told the jury, "she returned to her work-and-party lifestyle." While Doug was unexpected, he was still born into a world of happiness and excitement. "Green was unexpected, but he was not treated as Doug was." She testified that Roxanne was unhappy about being pregnant and losing her figure once again. "During pregnancy and after birth, Green was looked at as a nuisance," Vogelsang said. Green was "not easily soothed, he didn't eat well, he barely slept at all, and didn't nurse well either." She reiterated that other family members had to step in and assist with the care of Green.
The snowball started rolling. "Roxanne often laughed at and joked about Steve," she told the court, "Roxanne unfortunately never realized Steven's gifts, and in doing so, made him an easy target." Something that subtly shocked the courtroom, she testified that in her interview with Green, he told her that Roxanne "had told Steven that if he had been born in colonial times, she would legally have been allowed to take him out to the forest and kill him."
She talked about Green in his younger age. "According to interviews, he was bowlegged as a child, making him a very uncoordinated, clumsy child." [Ö] "As a child, when he was with anyone but his primary family, he did great!" giving an example of his aunt teaching him to count and to read, as well as reading to him. "again, when someone paid attention to Steve, and provided a structured environment around him, he'd do fine." She spoke about Green being very neglected as a child, and because of that, having a very low self esteem. "He acted in ways that would get him rejected by his family, mostly by trying to get attention in the first place." She told a story of Green creating a painting of a heart with an arrow through it, which he tried to give to Roxanne. "Roxanne just turned and walked away, according to Steven." She also told how Roxanne ignored Doug's beatings of Steve. "Roxanne unfortunately thought that children should discipline themselves ... it contributed to her children being socially inept."
She told the story of how Roxanne began having an affair, and the subsequent divorce between herself and John. That forced Green to move to northern Texas to live with his uncle. "While there," she said, "he received some minor possession charges...one for selling beer in his school parking lot so that he could buy food, and another where he was caught with a blunt (marijuana cigar) in his hand." She spoke of important things Green didn't have. "One of the most important things a parent can teach a child is that they will face adversity in their life and how to face it. Green was not taught to face adversity, at all."
She spoke of Roxanne's relationship with Doug. "She made Doug a best friend, and a confidant," she said. This occurred more so during the periods of time when Roxanne lacked a significant male friend or boyfriend or husband. "She turned Doug into a substitute male...which gives that male too much power. She shared too much with him. She empowered him as the enforcer of the house, she put him in charge." Doug was also extremely abusive. "Doug was mentally, physically, and emotionally abusive to Steve and Danielle." The court has already heard testimony about Danielle taking three trips to the emergency room due to injuries suffered from Doug, something I left out of the blog previously. "Roxanne felt that Steve deserved Doug's abuse." She talked about Roxanne actually missing Steve's graduation from basic training. She ended by talking about the end result. "The accumulation of tumultuous events in his life made him into Steven Green."
Court adjourned early at roughly 3:30 PM today, and will be out of session until Monday, May 19th. The defense has to prepare more witnesses, presumably Green's direct family (Roxanne, Doug, Danielle, and John). Personally, my guess is that those witnesses were ready today, but the defense doesn't want to give the jury time to forgot them over the weekend. The prosecution is also reportedly bringing in their own expert to combat the brain analysis etc.
1 - Annotation of Vogelsang's research-: Owns her own private practice. Worked at the Veteran's Affairs for a number of years. Licensed by the South Carolina Social Workers, as well as being board certified. Conducted a total social, bio-psychological, and historical assessment of Green's family. Conducted interviews, reviewed documents, did research on the ancestry, reviewed child welfare documents, court records, family systems, neurological documents. Interviewed all of the following: Danielle, Suzi Woolsey, Patricia Ruth (aunt to Green), Uncle David, Doug, Allma Thomas, Steven Green, Green's maternal grandmother (a Simolke), Greg Simolke, Daniel Carr, Jim Isclaw, Chase Bentley, Roxanne, Cody Ray and Joni Ray, & father John Green. Reviewed lots of mental records, and visited Midland, TX as well as other cities, reviewed school records, employment records, previously conducted psychological interviews, as well as drug treatment records.
2 - Will someone please bring me RedBull or maybe some Starbucks? I have a sneaky suspicion that there are a few people in the courtroom who are getting a little peeved about my "inability to stay alert" (or awake perhaps) during the more monotonous parts of testimony. :(
3 - CNN is now doing daily coverage as well. See their latest here. While we're at it, check out The Common Ills as they are also doing near-daily coverage. Other sites covering the trial: Expose The War Profiteers, Firedoglake/Oxdown, The West Kentucky Star.