An ex-soldier who could be sentenced to death for raping and killing a teenage girl in Iraq has brain damage that can make it difficult to control impulses and process information in chaotic situations, a neurological expert testified Tuesday.
Ruben Gur, director of neuropsychology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, told jurors Tuesday that former Pfc. Steven Dale Green would be prone to acting inappropriately in chaotic situations because of the brain damage. Gur, testifying for the defense, said the brain damage likely was caused by several head injuries.
Gur said people with brain damage like Green's would have "major difficulties" processing information and controlling impulses.
"They won't have the brakes and they'll be easily aroused into action," said Gur, who is not a medical doctor.
Green would likely adapt well to structured environments, such as the military or prison, Gur said.
A jury is hearing testimony in the penalty phase of Green's trial before deciding whether to sentence him to death or to life in prison. Jurors didn't hear an explanation Tuesday for how or when Green suffered head injuries.
The nine-woman, three-man panel convicted Green last week of multiple counts of rape and murder related to the March 2006 attack on 14-year-old Abetter Passim al-Janabi and the slaying of her father, mother and sister at their home in Mahmoudiya, Iraq, about 20 miles south of Baghdad.
Testimony is expected to last several days before the jury begins deciding the sentence.
Under questioning from Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Lesousky, Gur told jurors he didn't examine Green personally. Instead, Gur said, he reviewed an MRI done of Green at the University of Louisville.
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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