A pretty morning here at Fort Hood.
Today is the final pretrial hearing for the Army officer accused carrying out a shooting spree here in 2009 now commonly known as the Fort Hood shooting. The presiding judge, Col. Tara Obsorn, will seat the jury today and conduct supplemental voir dire — lawyer speak for questioning the jury. Just in case any jurors have done something to disqualify themselves since July 16, the Army has flown in five additional officers to possibly serve on the jury.
The current make-up of the jury is nine colonels, three lieutenant colonels and one major. All jurors have to outrank Maj. Nidal Hasan, the accused. In order to convict the Army psychiatrist, at least nine have to agree he is guilty. But to get the death penalty, all 13 must agree Hasan is guilty of committing premeditated murder when he admittedly opened fire on soldiers. I wrote a bit about how the prosecution plans on proving premeditation in my coverage of Friday's hearing.
As expected, more journalists are here today I think mostly to check the lay of the land before tomorrow, when the trial begins. The Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, Austin American-Statesman and San Antonio Express-News along with local TV and some regional network outlets.
Hasan got a lot of national coverage this weekend, with many outlets publishing "curtain riser" articles for his capital murder trial.
NBC 5 out of Dallas is running with a story scorning the Army for Hasan's helicopter rides to and from Bell County Jail, calling it VIP treatment. "While a prisoner awaiting trial, Hasan is ferried by helicopter nearly every day, complete with an additional helicopter escort and security detail, for the 20-mile journey between the Bell County Jail and Fort Hood, courtesy of the United States Army and American taxpayers," the report states.
Coverage from the Daily Mail focused on victims' civil suit against Hasan, the Army and the Department of Defense seeking damages "for allowing a jihadist soldier to rise through the ranks unchecked because of 'political correctness.'"
CBS news has "5 things you need to know" about Hasan's trial.
The New York Times calls the upcoming court-martial "unprecedented," concluding that the only U.S. military trial to come close in scope to Hasan's case is "the 1971 court-martial of First Lt. William L. Calley Jr., the only soldier convicted in the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War, in which hundreds of Vietnamese civilians were killed by American troops."
The Los Angeles Times has the most extensive interview with Alonzo Lunsford, one of the more compelling victims who was shot seven times during the mass shooting, leaving him blind in one eye. Lunsford was also quoted weekend stories from the New York Times, the Associated Press and Stars and Stripes. A popular man indeed. Of the shooting, Lunsford told the LA Times reporter, "Part of me did die that day," he said. "That Alonzo died, but I was also reborn."
Dozens of other outlets have picked up the story today. The hearing starts in about 30 minutes. Don't forget to check in with me on Twitter @KDHcrime for up-to-the minute updates.