SAN ANTONIO -- Private First Class Lynndie England will abandon her earlier courtroom strategy and fight charges that she was a key participant in detainee abuse by guards at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, her lawyer said.
The 22-year-old Army reservist, seen in a series of graphic photos taken inside Abu Ghraib, goes on trial today at Fort Hood, Texas, on seven counts of mistreating prisoners.
She will be the last of a group of junior enlisted soldiers charged with Abu Ghraib abuses to have their cases resolved. Two have been convicted at trial, while six others made plea deals and received prison sentences of up to eight years.
Three months after England's attempt at a plea agreement fell apart, her lead defense lawyer, Captain Jonathan Crisp, said ''there's not going to be a deal."
Crisp said he plans to base much of his defense on England's history of mental health problems that date back to her childhood.
He said he also will focus on the influence exerted over England by Private Charles Graner, the reputed abuse ringleader. Graner, believed to have fathered England's young son while they were deployed, is serving a 10-year sentence after being convicted at trial in January.
''I wouldn't say it's 'Blame Graner,' " Crisp said of his trial strategy, which includes calling Graner as a witness. ''But certainly Graner is involved as far as what was going on."
England pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy, maltreating detainees, and committing an indecent act -- the same charges she faces this week -- in exchange for an undisclosed sentencing cap. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 11 years.
But the judge, Colonel James Pohl, abruptly threw out the deal and declared a mistrial during the sentencing phase when testimony by Graner contradicted England's guilty plea.