• November 29, 2014

Fort Hood shooting victims: Time for justice

Nearly 4 years after post massacre, court-martial for accused shooter finally set to begin

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Posted: Sunday, July 7, 2013 4:30 am | Updated: 2:13 pm, Thu Jan 23, 2014.

After more than 3½ unpredictable years of legal wrangling, appeals, surprises and the possible inclusion of a former U.S. attorney general, the trial of Maj. Nidal Hasan is about to begin.

Jury selection starts Tuesday in the court-martial of the Army officer accused of the deadliest mass shooting on a U.S. military base. For at least one victim, the various delays have been painful.

“Imagine you were a child wishing for a Christmas that never comes,” said Alonzo Lunsford, who was shot multiple times Nov. 5, 2009. “When it was delayed, that hurt me, that hurt me. I felt let down.”

Lunsford is set to be the prosecution’s leadoff witness when testimony begins Aug. 6. Though all hurdles leading up to Hasan’s trial appear cleared, Lunsford said he is not allowing himself to get too excited that the court-martial will begin.

Army officers from across the nation are being flown to Fort Hood to possibly become part of the panel that will decide whether Hasan should be set free, jailed for life or executed.

Death penalty

Hasan’s trial likely would have ended years ago had the government decided to not seek the death penalty. Capital cases carry greater scrutiny, with guaranteed safeguards built into the system should the trial be carried out improperly.

Death sentences are overturned at a high rate in courts-martial, leading the presiding judge to take more time to make sure any conviction stands.

The military has not executed anyone since 1961, and more than half of the death sentences in the past 25 years have been commuted to life in prison.

Despite the military’s recent history with death penalty convictions, several military law experts said they feel keeping execution on the table is required in Hasan’s case.

“If ever there was a case that was appropriate for the death penalty, this is the case,” said Lisa Windsor, a retired colonel who spent 22 years in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. “The government has sufficient evidence to secure a conviction. More importantly, the victims and their families have waited too long and deserve to see this case to a conclusion that subjects Maj. Hasan to the ultimate punishment. It is the only course of action that serves the ends of justice.”

Nov. 5, 2009

Hasan, 42, is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder, one charge for each person slain or wounded during the Nov. 5, 2009, shooting rampage at the Soldier Readiness Processing Center on post.

Scores of soldiers and Army personnel were in the building where the majority of the shooting took place. Like Hasan, most were preparing to deploy to Afghanistan.

Hasan allegedly opened fire on soldiers who were waiting at a crowded station where soldiers were required to file paperwork.

Over several minutes, the major was heard yelling “Allahu Akbar” — Arabic for God is great — as he fired more than 100 shots with a laser-sighted handgun. The rampage ended when Fort Hood police officer Sgt. Mark Todd shot Hasan multiple times, leaving the Army psychiatrist paralyzed from the chest down.

Since Hasan was arraigned in 2011 and the Army authorized the death penalty as a possible sentence, the trial has faced several stops and starts along with intense scrutiny from many who have grown more frustrated as delays mounted.

Beards and judges

Hasan fired all of his attorneys, including three Army officers who had earned Hasan several legal victories.

They were successful in having the first judge assigned to the case, Col. Gregory Gross, ousted over issues regarding Hasan’s decision to defy military regulations and wear a beard for what he claimed were religious purposes.

Gross repeatedly held Hasan in contempt of court for refusing to obey his order to shave. When he finally ordered Hasan to be forcibly shaved by an Army team, the case became embroiled in appellate courts.

That order led to a nearly yearlong delay.

A high military court ultimately ruled Gross showed a possible bias against Hasan for repeatedly holding him in contempt, and that Hasan’s decision to wear a beard had created an adversarial relationship between the two.

The Army wasted little time in assigning a new judge, Col. Tara Osborn, to the case.

However, Osborn required months to review the case and the more than 350 filings submitted by the prosecution and the defense. She granted reconsideration of several motions Gross previously ruled upon, while allowing lawyers to continue to argue over new issues.

During that time, the relationship between Hasan and his attorneys appeared to have been riven over Hasan’s insistence on putting on a “defense of others” strategy. Hasan planned to justify the mass shooting as an attack against soldiers he believed would kill fellow Muslims in the war in Afghanistan, which Hasan insists is illegal.

Hasan’s former defense attorney John Galligan, a retired colonel, said Hasan asked his lawyers to research the “defense of others” strategy about two years ago.

Hasan fired them because they refused to do so. They remain Hasan’s standby counsel, available to help him at any time. But they have shown their displeasure with being associated with Hasan.

All three officers assigned to his defense asked to be dismissed from the case. They then withdrew their requests when the judge ruled Hasan’s defense was inadmissible, but not before filing paperwork that called it “repugnant, imprudent and potentially criminal.”

“Nidal Hasan is going to be a better advocate for himself, because his lawyers have abandoned him,” Galligan said.

He now faces the possibility of having former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark represent him. Clark was attorney general under President Lyndon B. Johnson and has since defended accused war criminals, including Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic.

Clark and Hasan have spoken over the phone multiple times since Clark reached out to the Army psychiatrist a few weeks ago. They met in person Saturday.

How Clark’s involvement in the case would affect the trial remains unknown. The lead witness in the case, whom Hasan is accused of shooting seven times, said he was worried Clark’s involvement could delay the case again.

“The good thing about it is Ramsey is good, but he is not a starter,” Lunsford said. “He has come in as a sub.”

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7 comments:

  • JonB posted at 7:04 pm on Tue, Jul 9, 2013.

    JonB Posts: 4

    The defense attorney's are doing their job - they have said - and you rarely see this - stated that they are repulsed by their client, his objectives, his actions. They will limit their "defense" to insuring that the law is followed.

     
  • JonB posted at 7:00 pm on Tue, Jul 9, 2013.

    JonB Posts: 4

    Couldn't have said it better. The actions by the US Government and US Military in this case have been an embarrassment to any citizen of the US. A "workplace incident" - please!!. Hasan should be tried for treason, his religious beliefs ans his "logic" are not part of the US is about. Period.

     
  • Eliza posted at 2:36 pm on Sun, Jul 7, 2013.

    Eliza Posts: 868

    @Baylor:
    I wouldn't say Mr. Clark is of the muslim belief in a religious manner, But I would be willing to think, he is more comfortable in the radical muslim political beliefs then you or I would be.
    Its said, You are known by the company you keep, and as the below excerpts from two different articles will allow anyone to see,Mr. Clark is very comfortable in company that no one I've ever known or been told of, has any interest in .
    ----------------------

    The International Action Center (IAC) is an activist group founded by former United States Attorney General Ramsey Clark. It supports anti-imperialist movements around the world, and opposes U.S. military intervention in all circumstances.
    The IAC has offices in major cities including New York City, Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Boston. The IAC share a considerable overlap with members of the Workers World Party.
    Leftist political and anti-colonialist issues in Iraq, Palestine, Haiti, Cuba, Latin America, the Philippines, Korea and elsewhere around the world are of particular interest to the IAC.
    After the September 11, 2001 attacks, IAC initiated the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, which helped to organize several massive rallies in opposition to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, for a time in loose partnership with United for Peace and Justice. After a split in the Workers World Party, the leadership of ANSWER separated from the IAC. For their part, the IAC initiated the Troops Out Now Coalition to oppose the war.
    ---------

    The website of the far left Worker’s World Party has reported on an event which celebrated the 85th birthday of former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark and that included diplomatic officials from Cuba, Venezuela, and Iran as well as a leader in the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood who is accused of committing war crimes in his home country. According to the report:

    The event at historic Riverside Church’s Assembly Hall the evening of Jan. 12 will long be remembered. Over 350 political, community and anti-war activists, along with U.N. diplomats and consular officials from Cuba, Venezuela, Peru, Iran and Serbia, celebrated both the 85th birthday of human-rights lawyer and former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark and the 20th anniversary of the International Action Center, an anti-imperialist, anti-racist organization that Clark founded in 1992. The evening reflected a broad leftist spectrum of respect and admiration for Clark and his principled stances throughout his life. The report goes on to identify other participants in the event including:
    ◾Abdeen Jabara, past president, American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
    ◾Gloria La Riva, Answer Coalition, National Committee to Free the Cuban Five and Party for Socialism and Liberation
    ◾Imam Ashrafuz Zaman Khan, Islamic Circle of North America
    ◾Larry Holmes, first secretary of Workers World Party

     
  • Bubba posted at 10:38 am on Sun, Jul 7, 2013.

    Bubba Posts: 753

    Here in America, all defendents are entitled to a competent defense. Colonel (Retired) Galligan is a retired career Army JAG officer and lawyer. Ramsey Clark is a former Attorney General of the United States. He served under President Johnson, which may explain why you have never heard of him. Neither of these men are muslim to my knowledge.

     
  • Baylor posted at 9:56 am on Sun, Jul 7, 2013.

    Baylor Posts: 179

    Why would ANYBODY want to help this cheap thug who murdered innocent innocent folks? Is this Galligan a muslim himself? I have never heard of Ramsey Clark, I assume he is a muslim himself?

     
  • Eliza posted at 9:36 am on Sun, Jul 7, 2013.

    Eliza Posts: 868

    He now faces the possibility of having former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark represent him. Clark was attorney general under President Lyndon B. Johnson and has since defended accused war criminals, including Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic.
    ----------------------
    But even with Clark involved with the above cases, Where are those clients now ?
    I believe they are Burning in Hell.


    Hasan has shown he wasn't as willing to 'die for his cause', defense of enemy soldiers, as he thought. But has whined his way through every sort of delay, he or his defenders could come up with.

    Nothing they or he can state in his defense, will keep him from being tried for his crime of Murder in Cold Blood Against Unarmed Innocents, which will be able to save his Finally being found Guilty of All the Above Murders.
    As a matter of fact,
    He committed Uniformed Treason when he murdered members of his fellow military in the name of the enemy.

    Hasan was a coward the day he decided to Kill those who would have had no reason to fear him and he remains a coward.
    Its time to stop allowing him and his defenders, make fools out of the ones who are 'suppose' to be in charge of the courtroom.

     
  • Proud Mother of an Army Avi8er posted at 7:31 am on Sun, Jul 7, 2013.

    Proud Mother of an Army Avi8er Posts: 239

    " A man many have identified as Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan enters the Soldier Readiness Center at Fort Hood and opens fire. "

    "Hasan planned to justify the mass shooting as an attack against soldiers he believed would kill fellow Muslims in the war in Afghanistan, which Hasan insists is illegal."

    How much longer do the victims families have to be tormented with delays.