FORT HOOD — The courthouse where accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan will be tried has had security measures increased once again as the start date for his court-martial nears.
The courthouse has been rendered almost entirely hidden from view from the various security checkpoints and barriers leading to its entrance.
The latest additions, scores of mesh and heavy-duty fiber barriers filled with sand, are known as Hesco barriers. They are stacked two-high surrounding the Lawrence J. Williams Courthouse, leaving only a small sliver of the building’s roof visible from outside the perimeter of barricades.
The barriers, originally designed to protect against flooding, have been used in a military capacity since intervention in Bosnia. They are capable of withstanding bullets, car bombs and shrapnel, according to the manufacturer’s website.
It is yet another security measure added as Hasan’s court-martial approaches. Jury selection is expected to begin May 29, with testimony starting about a month later.
Prior to a previous trial date in August 2012, post officials placed Conex crates around the perimeter of the courthouse. At least 100 were placed around the building, stacked three-high at some points.
Fort Hood spokesman Chris Haug called the new barriers “a prudent measure given recent world events done to protect the safety of all parties participating in the trial,” referencing April 15 terrorist bombings at the Boston Marathon.
Hasan’s former defense attorney, John Galligan, said the appearance of the courthouse could lead to an unfair trial for Hasan.
“Why don’t you just try him in a dungeon or a California supermax (prison)?” Galligan said.
Timeline for Hasan’s court-martial
Thursday — Pretrial hearing. Several issues remain unresolved, including the admissibility of some evidence and a request to compel the testimony of members of Hasan’s family.
May 29 — Jury selection begins. From a group of about 80 commissioned officers, lawyers will select a jury of 12 for Hasan’s capital murder trial, with up to four alternates. Jurors will be from all over the contiguous U.S. The process is expected to take up to four weeks.
Early July — Testimony begins. The government has scheduled a five-day period between jury selection and testimony in order to allow for witnesses to arrive. There are more than 300 witnesses, though many will not be called to the stand. The trial is expected to last two to three months.
Contact Philip Jankowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7553