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Soldier pleads guilty to murder

February 21, 2007|From the Associated Press

FT. CAMPBELL, KY. — A U.S. soldier pleaded guilty Tuesday to rape and murder in the death of a 14-year-old girl and her family last year in Iraq. A judge has not yet accepted the plea.

The military court still must decide whether the killings in Mahmoudiya were premeditated and will hear evidence today.

The court will consider whether Sgt. Paul E. Cortez, 24, of Barstow, Calif., should be found guilty of premeditated murder and whether he is guilty of conspiracy to commit premeditated murder, defense lawyer William Cassara said Tuesday. Cortez pleaded guilty to murder, rape and conspiracy to rape.

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