Fort Hood Commander Will Decide What Happens Next In Lynndie England Case

Fort Hood Commander Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz must now decide what charges if any Army Reserve Pfc. Lynndie England will face in the abuse of detainees at Baghdad’s infamous Abu Ghraib Prison.

If she is charged, she will be subject to another Article 32 Hearing, which is the military equivalent of a review by a civilian grand jury.

On Wednesday military judge Col. James Pohl rejected the guilty plea England entered earlier this week to charges filed in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse case.

The judge’s decision came after the testimony of Pvt. Charles Graner, Jr., who was convicted of abuse charges in January and is now serving a ten-year prison sentence.

Graner intended to testify in England’s defense during the sentencing phase of the court-martial, but his testimony raised questions about England’s guilty pleas.

Pohl, abruptly stopped England's sentencing hearing Wednesday morning after Graner's testimony about three pictures he took of England holding a naked prisoner on a leash.

Graner testified that the photos were meant to be used as a legitimate training aid for other guards, which contradicted England's contention Monday, when she pleaded guilty.

She told the judge then that she knew then that the pictures were taken purely for the amusement of the Baghdad prison's guards.

In rejecting the pleas, Pohl said he wasn't convinced England knew her actions were wrong at the time she committed them.

England pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of conspiracy to maltreat prisoners, four counts of maltreating prisoners and one count of committing an indecent act.

One count of committing indecent acts and one count of failure to obey a lawful order were dismissed in exchange for the guilty plea.

The plea agreement would have reduced England's maximum possible sentence to eleven years, and would have meant that England would have gotten the lesser of the jury's sentence or the sentence agreed upon in the plea deal.

The 22-year-old West Virginia reservist, who was perhaps the most recognizable defendant in the prisoner abuse scandal, was scheduled to go on trial Tuesday at Fort Hood, but her attorney announced the plea agreement late Friday.

Army Reservist Spc. Sabrina Harman of Lorton, Va. is still scheduled to go to trial next week at Fort Hood on charges filed in the abuse of prisoners.

Harman is charged with conspiracy, maltreatment and dereliction of duty in connection with the abuse of prisoners.

Prosecutors dropped an indecent acts charge in February, which means Harman is facing a possible sentence of 6 ½ years if convicted on all counts.

Specific incidents of alleged abuse by Harman include writing "rapeist" on the leg of one detainee and forcing another to stand on a box with wires in his hands and telling him he would be electrocuted if he fell off.

She would be the second defendant in the prisoner abuse scandal to go to a general court-martial.

Frank Spinner, Harman's civilian lawyer, said his client will not seek a plea agreement with prosecutors, a path chosen by a number of other soldiers accused of mistreating prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

Spinner says his client is not guilty.

Earlier this year, Spc. Javal Davis, who was in the same company as Harman, was sentenced to six months in military prison, a reduction in rank and a bad conduct discharge after pleading guilty to dereliction of duty, making false official statements and battery.

Davis, 27, a reservist from Roselle, N.J., blamed his crimes on job-related stress.

Five other soldiers have also pleaded guilty to charges filed in the abuse scandal and a sixth, Graner, was tried, convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Graner, 36, of Uniontown, Pa., is the only defendant to go to trial. Prosecutors described Graner, who is said to be England's ex-boyfriend, as the ringleader of a group of Abu Ghraib guards who mistreated Iraqi detainees. He was photographed giving the thumbs-up sign behind a pile of naked detainees and ordering them to masturbate. He is serving a 10-year prison sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., after he was found guilty in January.

Last month he married Megan Ambuhl, 30, of Centreville, Va., a former Abu Ghraib guard who pleaded guilty to failing to prevent or report maltreatment of prisoners. She was accused of watching prisoners being abused and helping set up the photograph of England holding a naked prisoner by a leash. Ambuhl was discharged from the Army without serving prison time.

Ivan Frederick, 38, of Buckingham, Va., was sentenced to 8½ years in October after pleading guilty to conspiracy, dereliction of duty, maltreatment of detainees, assault and committing an indecent act. Frederick admitted he helped place wires on a detainee's hands and told him he would be electrocuted if he fell off a box. He was a staff sergeant, making him the highest-ranking soldier to serve prison time in the case.

Jeremy Sivits, 25, of Hyndman, Pa., pleaded guilty last May to four counts for taking pictures of naked Iraqi prisoners being humiliated, including some of the photographs that triggered the scandal. The former guard was sentenced to a year in prison.

Roman Krol, 23, of Randolph, Mass., admitted pouring water on naked detainees and forcing them to crawl around the floor at Abu Ghraib, and throwing a foam football at them while they were handcuffed. After pleading guilty, Krol was sentenced in February to 10 months in prison.

Armin Cruz, 24, of Plano, Texas, was sentenced to eight months in September after pleading guilty to conspiracy and mistreating prisoners. Cruz was accused of forcing naked prisoners to crawl along the floor and handcuffing men together.

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