Army Pfc. Lynndie England's Case Ends In Mistrial - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

5/4/05-FORT HOOD, Texas

Army Pfc. Lynndie England's Case Ends In Mistrial

FORT HOOD, Texas- A military judge on Wednesday threw out Army Pfc. Lynndie England's guilty plea in connection with the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, declaring a mistrial after testimony suggested England did not know her actions were wrong.

That testimony was offered by England's former boyfriend and supervisor, Pvt. Charles Graner Jr., who was convicted separately in the scandal and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Graner testified Wednesday that he placed a dog leash around an Iraqi prisoner's neck and asked England to lead him out of his cell -- a legitimate technique for doing so, he said. England, who was photographed holding the leash, was just following orders, Graner said.

After that, Judge Col. James Pohl excused the jury and gave defense attorneys a tongue-lashing. Graner's testimony, he pointed out, contradicted England's guilty plea Monday to seven criminal counts -- each of which was represented by a photograph of her posing next to naked Iraqi prisoners in humiliating positions. In making that plea, she admitted her participation and said she knew it was wrong. If she was just following orders, Pohl said, she should be pleading not guilty.

Following a recess, defense attorneys told Pohl that England wished to enter a plea of not guilty, and Pohl declared a mistrial.

It now is up to military prosecutors whether to refile charges against England. If they do, her defense attorneys may renegotiate a plea deal. The maximum penalty for the seven counts -- two of conspiracy, four of abusing detainees and one of committing an indecent act -- that England pleaded guilty to on Monday is 11 years in prison, but CNN learned that she may have faced only about two years under the secret terms of the plea deal.

A six-person military jury was set to decide what punishment England should receive for her role in the scandal. Pohl told attorneys for both sides they could "negotiate a new deal and come back another day."

Graner, who is said to be the father of England's infant son, Carter England, born in October, is now married to Spec. Megan Ambuhl, one of the four guards to plead guilty in the scandal.

England's mother carried Carter into court Wednesday. In the morning, she removed the baby's hood for photographers; when she left for lunch, he was covered by a blanket.

Graner was also busted from a rank of specialist following his conviction, and is to be dishonorably discharged when he is released from prison. Leaving court on Tuesday, Graner handed out a written statement saying he found England's guilty plea "upsetting" but hopes it will bring her an easier sentence.

England, however, appeared resentful toward Graner. As the courtroom sketch artist, Pat Lopez, was drawing him, England leaned over to her and said, "Don't forget the horns and the pitchfork."

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