FORT HOOD, Texas – A former Abu Ghraib (search) guard pleaded guilty Tuesday to battery and two other charges in the Iraqi prison abuse scandal as part of a deal with prosecutors on the eve of his trial.
Sgt. Javal Davis (search), 27, also pleaded guilty to dereliction of duty and making a false official statement to Army investigators after photographs of naked and abused prisoners became public last spring. Davis, from Roselle, N.J., will not be tried on two other charges he had faced: conspiracy and maltreating detainees.
Defense attorney Paul Bergrin told The Associated Press last week that Davis was working on a deal with prosecutors that would cap his possible sentence at 18 months.
Capt. Chuck Neill, a prosecution spokesman, acknowledged that a deal was made, but would not comment on the sentencing.
A jury of officers and soldiers will be selected Wednesday for sentencing. Neill said the jury's sentence recommendation will be compared to the deal offered to Davis, and that the lesser sentence will be served.
"We intend to present a very, very aggressive sentencing trial such that this panel will give him no punishment at all," Bergrin said, adding that Davis will likely testify during the hearing.
Davis admitted Tuesday that he stepped on the hands and feet of some of the seven detainees brought into his section of Abu Ghraib for punishment after a November 2003 disturbance in a prison tent camp nearby. He said he also fell with full weight on top of them.
In a separate hearing Tuesday, an Army reservist in a military intelligence unit was sentenced to 10 months after pleading guilty to conspiracy and maltreating detainees at the prison.
Spc. Roman Krol (search), 23, of Randolph, Mass., admitted pouring water on the naked detainees in October 2003, forcing them to crawl around the prison and to throwing a foam football at the prisoners while they were handcuffed on the floor.
Krol said other Abu Ghraib guards were present at the time, and that Pvt. Charles Graner, the alleged ringleader of the abuse, made the detainees do jumping jacks while naked. Graner was convicted last month for his role in the scandal.
Krol chose Col. James Pohl, the judge in the Abu Ghraib cases, to hear his case and sentence him, rather than go through a jury trial.
Davis, serving with the Maryland-based 372nd Military Police Company, said he was upset because a female soldier had been hit in the face with a brick during the tent camp incident, and that he took out his anger on the prisoners.
"It hurt me on the inside and I just lost it," said Davis, who stands about 6-foot-1 and weighs nearly 220 pounds. "I wasn't trying to hurt them. I was just trying to scare them, but I did it."
Davis, who did not appear in any of the notorious Abu Ghraib photos, also said he saw others abusing detainees, but he did not come forward.
Davis told the judge that he saw what he believed to be military and civilian intelligence personnel physically mistreating detainees and, among other things, using unmuzzled dogs to terrify prisoners prior to questioning.
The pleas were entered after Pohl rejected efforts by Davis to get all the charges dismissed.
The three charges to which Davis pleaded guilty carry a maximum punishment of 61/2 years in prison. Davis had faced up to 81/2 years.
Graner, of Uniontown, Pa., was sentenced last month to 10 years in prison and his rank was reduced from specialist to private after being convicted on the same charges faced by Davis, as well as committing indecent acts.
Krol and Spc. Armin J. Cruz were the first members of military intelligence to be charged in the scandal. Cruz was sentenced to eight months in September.
Four other soldiers have already pleaded guilty in the case, and each testified at Graner's weeklong trial. Two others — Spc. Sabrina Harman and Pfc. Lynndie England — still face trial.
According to part of the plea deal read by the judge, Davis is required to testify against Harman and England if requested by prosecutors.