Soldiers collect evidence of their own crime

US soldiers deployed in Iraq were sent to collect forensic evidence at the crime scene where a 14 year old girl was raped and then killed along with her family. But in a spectacular display of I don’t even know what, it turns out that these very soldiers are now accused of carrying out the vicious attack.

The New York Times reports that the photos the soldiers took may now be used against them in court.

As though this story wasn’t enough, the soldiers appear to be blaming stress from being on the front-line and a lack of command structure for the crime.

At the time, the men\x92s squad leader and the overseeing platoon commander \x97 both highly respected leaders \x97 were on leave, said a sergeant in the same company as the men. He provided some details through e-mail on condition of anonymity.

"I know none of that would have happened if he was around," the sergeant said of the squad leader.

At least one staff sergeant in the unit repeatedly complained that checkpoints were under-manned, said David P. Sheldon and Capt. James D. Culp, lawyers who represent Specialist James P. Barker, one of the accused men. He and Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman, Pfc. Bryan L. Howard and Sgt. Paul E. Cortez have been accused of rape, murder and arson. The fifth soldier in the hearing, Sgt. Anthony W. Yribe, is accused of dereliction of duty for not reporting the crime, but he is not thought to have been at the house. Mr. Green is being tried in civilian criminal court.

While all this sounds really bad, I can’t help thinking that it’s a pretty poor excuse for gang raping a 14 year old girl and murdering an entire family.