Army Pfc. Lynndie England will abandon her earlier courtroom strategy and fight charges that she was a key participant in guards’ abuse of detainees at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, her lawyer said.
The 22-year-old reservist, who appears in a series of graphic photos taken inside Abu Ghraib, is to go on trial today at Ft. Hood, Texas, on seven counts of mistreating prisoners.
She will be the last of the junior enlisted soldiers charged with Abu Ghraib abuses to have their cases resolved. Two have been convicted at trial; six made plea deals and received prison sentences of up to eight years.
Three months after England’s attempt at a plea agreement fell apart, her lead defense lawyer, Capt. Jonathan Crisp, said “there’s not going to be a deal.”
Crisp said he plans to base much of his defense on England’s history of mental health problems that date to her childhood.
He said he also would focus on the influence exerted over England by Pvt. Charles Graner, the reputed ringleader of the abuse. Graner, who England has said fathered her son while they were deployed, is serving a 10-year sentence after being convicted at trial in January.
“I wouldn’t say it’s ‘Blame Graner,’ ” Crisp said of his trial strategy, which includes calling Graner as a witness. “But certainly Graner is involved as far as what was going on.”
England pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy, maltreating detainees and committing an indecent act -- the same charges she faces -- in exchange for an undisclosed sentencing cap. The maximum penalty is 11 years.
But the judge declared a mistrial during the sentencing phase when Graner’s testimony contradicted England’s guilty plea.