Soldier's attorneys seek to bar Abu Ghraib material
Photos, statements at center of legal fight
FORT BRAGG, North Carolina (CNN) -- Attorneys for Pfc. Lynndie England asked a military judge Wednesday to bar the use of the notorious Abu Ghraib photos and England's written admissions in her court-martial next month on prisoner abuse charges.
However, the investigator who first questioned England testified she was "calm" and "very cooperative" when asked about those photos.
He said the young Army clerk signed a waiver after being read her rights.
England, who has been called the "poster child" of Abu Ghraib by her lawyer, is scheduled to stand trial starting the week of January 17.
She is charged with 19 counts of assault, conspiracy, improper conduct and indecent acts, and could be sentenced to as much as 38 years in prison.
In what is England's last pretrial hearing, the military judge, Col. Stephen Henley, did not rule immediately on any of the defense motions. Court arguments on efforts to keep the photographs out of evidence were delayed until the second day of the hearings Thursday. The defense said it needed more time to prepare.
If the defense loses its bid to bar the photos, England could have even more reason to try to reach a deal to plead guilty in return for a lesser sentence before her court-martial begins.
The maximum sentence so far among others who have pleaded guilty in the Abu Ghraib scandal has been eight years in military prison.
England, 22, is a new mother. Her baby boy, apparently fathered in an affair with an Abu Ghraib guard also facing court-martial, was born seven weeks ago.
If given anything close to the maximum sentence at court-martial, she could be separated from her son until he is an adult.
England was first questioned at the prison in Iraq for four hours between midnight and dawn January 14 after another soldier gave investigators a compact disc that held the Abu Ghraib photos.
In them, England is shown holding one Iraqi inmate by a dog leash, mocking a naked row of prisoners and standing behind a human pyramid of nude detainees.
In his testimony Wednesday, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command agent Paul Arthur said England was brought in for questioning the first night after she was identified as the young woman in the dog-leash photo. He testified that she answered "yes" each time when asked if she understood her rights and that she turned down the opportunity to request a lawyer.
At the end of that session, Arthur said, England provided a signed and sworn statement. Under further questioning, both in Iraq and back at Fort Bragg, she signed two more written statements.
The defense wants the court to toss out all three admissions.
The other two investigators who questioned England -- Warren Worth in Iraq the next day, and William Hughes in May after she was transferred to Fort Bragg -- also testified each read England her rights, and again she declined to ask for a lawyer.
Arguments over the photos were delayed until Thursday because the defense said it needed more time to prepare.
CNN's Susan Candiotti and Jim Polk contributed to this report.