FORT HOOD — The former Fort Hood police officer who ended the 2009 mass shooting on post when he wounded the alleged shooter may not testify in Maj. Nidal Hasan’s upcoming court-martial.
An unspecified medical ailment inhibits former Fort Hood police Sgt. Mark Todd’s ability to speak, according to military prosecutors. They asked that Todd’s testimony from preliminary evidentiary hearings in 2010 be used instead.
Presiding judge Col. Tara Osborn made no ruling Wednesday and set a hearing for Friday, in which a medical professional with knowledge of Todd’s condition will provide testimony. Opening statements in Hasan’s trial are set for Tuesday.
Todd was widely lauded as a hero following the Nov. 5, 2009, mass shooting. He left the Fort Hood Police Department in 2011 after learning his contract would not be renewed due to an Armywide policy change on post police department personnel.
He shot Hasan multiple times outside the Soldier Processing Center where the mass shooting occurred, critically wounding Hasan and leaving him paralyzed from the chest down.
Todd testified in 2010 about the gunfight he engaged in with Hasan. He told the court he heard gunshots before rounding a corner and spotting fellow Fort Hood police officer Kimberly Munley wounded on the ground.
Todd and Hasan exchanged fire, and the Fort Hood policeman saw Hasan wince before collapsing against a pay phone.
Hasan said he had no objections to using Todd’s testimony from his Article 32 hearing in 2010 as long as Todd reviewed it and signed off on its authenticity and truthfulness.
No gag order
The judge also ruled Wednesday that no gag order would be put in place preventing Hasan or anyone else involved from making statements to media.
The prosecution renewed its request after Hasan sent trial-related documents to the Killeen Daily Herald and Fox News last week.
The documents included a lengthy statement from Hasan in 2011 in which he told an Al Jazeera reporter the U.S. is at war with Islam.
He previously released a sealed document to the Herald in early July outlining his intended defense strategy and an opening statement.
That leak drew ire from the judge, who said further releases of secret documents could jeopardize his ability to represent himself.
Osborn also ruled several pieces of graphic and evocative evidence would not be admissible during the trial. Most of the prohibited evidence included close-up autopsy photos of victim’s faces she said would improperly sway the jury by playing on their emotions.
“These images are particularly unsettling because of the close-ups of the face’s contorted facial expressions, some have opened eyes, some have opened mouths,” Osborn said.
However, she will allow use of a 911 call in which one of the victims, Pfc. Michael Pearson, can be heard drawing his dying breaths.
Contact Philip Jankowski at email@example.com or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.