The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

National News

August 21, 2013

No defense from suspect in 2009 Fort Hood shooting

FORT HOOD, Texas . — The soldier on trial for the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood rested his case Wednesday without calling any witnesses or testifying in his own defense.

Maj. Nidal Hasan is acting as his own attorney but told the judge that he wouldn’t be putting up a defense as he stands accused of killing 13 people and wounding more than 30 others at the Texas military base. If convicted, the Army psychiatrist could face the death penalty.

About five minutes after proceedings began Wednesday, the judge, Col. Tara Osborn, asked Hasan how he wanted to proceed. He answered: “The defense rests.”

Osborn then asked Hasan: “You have the absolute right to remain silent. You do not have to say anything. You have the right to testify if you choose. Understand”

Hasan answered that he did. When the judge asked if this was his personal decision, he said: “It is.”

The judge then asked if prosecutors were ready to give their closing arguments, but they asked for another day to prepare. Osborn then adjourned the trial until Thursday morning, and jurors were led out of the courtroom.

Hasan has made no attempt during his trial to prove his innocence or challenge the narrative of military prosecutors, who showed evidence of Hasan using his laptop to run Internet searches for “jihad” and find articles about calls to attack Americans in the days and even hours before the shooting.

He has sat mostly silent during the trial and questioned only three of the nearly 90 witnesses called by prosecutors. Several of those witnesses were shot during the attack and recalled hearing a shout of “Allahu Akbar!” — Arabic for “God is great!” — inside a crowded medical building before Hasan opened fire using a laser-sighted handgun.

The American-born Muslim suggested before trial that he wanted to argue the killings were in defense of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, but that strategy was rejected by the judge.

Since then, he has said little in his defense. In fact, during his brief opening statement, Hasan told jurors that evidence would show he was the shooter and called himself a soldier who had “switched sides” in a war.

Hasan began the trial signaling that he would call on just two people to testify — one a mitigation expert in capital murder cases and the other a California professor of psychology and religion. But on Tuesday, he indicated to the judge that he would now call neither witness. That left Osborn raising her own skepticism that Hasan would seize his last chance to defend himself.

 

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