updated 7/4/2006 10:02:58 PM ET 2006-07-05T02:02:58

In Steven Green’s hometown, few people seemed to have any recollection of the skinny, 21-year-old former private now accused in the horrific rape and killing of a young Iraqi woman and the execution-style slaying of her family.

And his father, John Green, somberly declined to comment about the case when reached at an apartment complex where residents include plenty of young men fresh off tours of service in the Middle East.

Shaun Sanders, a former Marine who spent 14 months in the Middle East and Africa and now lives in the building by Green’s family, said he hopes reports don’t reflect poorly on soldiers who have put their lives on the line in the Middle East.

“I don’t care where he’s from; this gives us a black eye,” said Sanders, adding that he did not know Green. “To hear a story of something like this happen in this particular region, at this particular time, is not good.”

Steven D. Green, who served in the Fort Campbell, Ky.-based 101st Airborne Division, is being prosecuted in federal rather than military court because he is no longer in the Army. He was honorably discharged this spring because of a “personality disorder.”

John Green told The Associated Press that attorneys have advised him not to publicly talk about the case against his son, who was charged with rape and four counts of murder Monday in a federal courtroom in Charlotte, N.C.

Investigators say Green and other soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division plotted to rape a young Iraqi woman they first saw at a traffic checkpoint in the village of Mahmoudiya. Green is accused of rounding up three family members in a room of the woman’s house and shooting them before raping and killing her.

‘Seemed like the same old Steve’
Greg Simolke told The Washington Post that his nephew had visited relatives in North Carolina last week on his way to and from a funeral at Arlington National Cemetery for a member of his platoon who was killed in Iraq.

“When he was here for this visit, he seemed like the same old Steve,” Simolke told The Post. “I don’t understand what happens in a war, so I don’t know how these things happen.”

Relatives told the newspaper that Green had grown up in Midland and joined the Army after receiving his GED. He went to Fort Benning, Ga., for infantry training and graduated in June 2005, his family said.

“He had found direction in his life, something important and something that he really wanted to do,” Simolke told The Post. “He was talking about making the military his career and was ready to go to Iraq. He thought it was a good thing to be serving his country.”

Green was arrested Friday at a relative’s home in Marion, about 75 miles northwest of Charlotte, but authorities wouldn’t disclose the relative’s name. Mary Simolke, Green’s grandmother who lives near Marion, declined comment on the advice of her attorney, the Charlotte Observer reported in Tuesday’s edition.

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