During the court-martial, a sometimes emotional Cortez recounted how he and his companions drank whiskey, played cards and plotted to attack the family at Mahmudiya, south of Baghdad, last March.
The group poured kerosene on the girl’s body and lit her on fire in an attempt to cover up the crime.
Cortez testified that Specialist James Barker, who also pleaded guilty in the case, and a since-discharged soldier, Private Steven Green, chose the family to attack because there was only one man in the house and it was an “easy target”.
Cortez said Green, the suspected ringleader, took the girl’s mother, father and little sister into a bedroom, while he and Barker took the teenager, Abeer Qassim al-Janabi, to the living room, where they took turns raping her.
He said Green shot the girl’s family in another room and then raped the teenager.