England Abu Ghraib Abuse Trial Opens

A former Abu Ghraib (search) prison guard testified Thursday that Lynndie England (search) was impressionable and under the sway of her soldier boyfriend, who prosecutors have described as the ringleader of detainee abuse.

Robert Jones (search), now a policeman in Baltimore, said the dominant presence of Pvt. Charles Graner trumped military rank to make him the de facto leader of the prison section where the abuse occurred.

Graner surrounded himself with people with weaker personalities, including England, Jones said.

Although Jones is a witness for the prosecution, his testimony may help the defense as it tries to convince jurors that England was trying to please Graner when she posed for the notorious abuse photos at Abu Ghraib.

Prosecutors allege that England's smiles and thumbs-up in the pictures show she was a willing, even eager, participant in the abuse of Iraqi detainees.

England, 22, a reservist from West Virginia, was charged with conspiracy, maltreating detainees and committing an indecent act. If convicted, she faces up to 11 years in military prison.

Graner, who England has said fathered her young son while they were deployed, was scheduled to testify as a defense witness. He was convicted in January and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The prosecution indicated that its case will be built largely on the photos taken by Abu Ghraib guards in 2003, as well as testimony from several of the soldiers previously convicted.

England's defense team took a different approach than her co-defendants by opting for the all-officer jury, which was selected earlier Wednesday. Two Abu Ghraib guards from the Maryland-based 372nd Military Police Company were convicted by juries made up of officers and enlisted personnel, and six soldiers made plea deals.

In May, England tried to plead guilty to all the same counts she faces this week in exchange for an undisclosed sentencing cap.

But Col. James Pohl (search), the presiding judge, threw out the deal and declared a mistrial when testimony by Graner contradicted England's guilty plea.

Graner, a defense witness at the sentencing, said pictures he took of England holding a prisoner on a leash were meant to be used as a training aid. But in her guilty plea, England said the pictures were being taken purely for the amusement of Abu Ghraib guards.