- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 3, 2005

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) - Defense attorneys sought leniency for Lynndie England at a hearing yesterday to determine her punishment in the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, with a psychologist testifying that the reservist was oxygen-deprived at birth, was speech-impaired and had trouble learning to read.

West Virginia school psychologist Thomas Denne - the first defense witness - said England’s learning disabilities were identified when she was a kindergartner - and though she made progress in school, she continued needing special help.

“I knew I was going to know Lynndie England for the rest of my life,” Mr. Denne said.

A military jury of five men and one woman was seated earlier yesterday to make a sentencing recommendation for England, 22, who pleaded guilty Monday to seven counts of mistreating prisoners.

England accepted responsibility for the smiling, thumbs-up poses she struck for photographs taken at Abu Ghraib that made her the face of the prisoner abuse scandal.

The charges carry up to 11 years in prison. Prosecutors and the defense reached an agreement that caps the sentence at a lesser punishment; the length was not released. She will get the lesser of the military jury’s sentence or the term agreed on in the plea bargain.

Prosecutor Capt. Chris Graveline told jurors in opening statements that England and a half-dozen other soldiers in the 372nd Military Police Company took great pleasure in humiliating the prisoners. The prosecution rested its sentencing case without calling any witnesses.

Capt. Graveline said England and Charles Graner Jr. ? the abuse ringleader and the father of England’s child - knew it was wrong to mistreat the detainees and take the photos, “but they did it anyway for their own amusement.”

In one of the photos, England held a leash looped around the neck of a hooded, naked prisoner. Another showed her next to nude prisoners stacked in a pyramid, while a third depicted England pointing at a prisoner’s genitals as a cigarette dangled from her lips.

When asked by judge Col. James Pohl whether England knew right from wrong, Mr. Denne said she had a compliant personality and tended to listen to authority figures.

On Monday, England told Col. Pohl that she initially resisted taking part in the abuse at the Baghdad prison, but that she succumbed to peer pressure.

“I had a choice, but I chose to do what my friends wanted me to,” she said.

Graner was convicted in January on abuse charges and is serving a 10-year prison sentence. Four other Abu Ghraib guards and two low-level military intelligence officers have entered guilty pleas in connection with the scandal, with sentences ranging from no time to 8 years. Spc. Sabrina Harman, a former Abu Ghraib guard, is scheduled to go to trial at Fort Hood next week.

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