• August 30, 2014

Hasan case now in hands of the jury

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Posted: Friday, August 23, 2013 4:30 am | Updated: 2:13 pm, Thu Jan 23, 2014.

FORT HOOD — With no verdict yet, jurors continue deliberating capital murder charges against accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan at 9 a.m. today.

Deliberations will enter a second day as a panel of 13 Army officers mulls 45 counts of premeditated and attempted premeditated murder for the Nov. 5, 2009, mass shooting on post.

The jury deliberated for about 3½ hours Thursday before notifying the court it had a question about the stipulated testimony of former Fort Hood police Sgt. Mark Todd.

Jurors requested either a copy of Todd’s testimony or that it be reread to them.

Presiding judge Col. Tara Osborn said because Todd’s testimony was stipulated, the jury could not review a hard copy of the statement from Todd, who shot Hasan multiple times, paralyzing the major and ending the shooting spree.

The charge regarding the attempted premeditated murder of Todd is different from the 31 other counts because Todd was not wounded in the attack. A medical condition also prevented the Killeen resident from testifying in person, instead submitting a written statement Hasan and the prosecution agreed could be presented in his absence.

“I’m not surprised there wasn’t a verdict,” former Fort Hood judge advocate general Richard Rosen said. “There are 45 (charges) altogether, so it is going to take awhile.”

Prosecutor Maj. Larry Downend read the statement to the jury again, in which Todd stated Hasan fired multiple shots at him two times outside of the Soldier Readiness Processing Center where Hasan allegedly killed the bulk of the victims in the shooting.

The jury, which will be largely isolated from the outside world until it reaches a verdict, then asked to break for the day. As she has done multiple times, Osborn warned jurors to avoid the news and social media.

The jury, which consists of nine colonels, three lieutenant colonels and one major, must unanimously find Hasan guilty of at least one charge of premeditated murder along with any other level of murder. The jury — 11 men and two women — all outrank Hasan.

Osborn read every charge Hasan faces to the jury Thursday. Her lengthy instructions took about an hour to deliver and required her to read the name of all 45 victims, including the 13 killed. As she read the names, some family members in the courtroom held hands.

“Each of you must resolve the ultimate question of whether the accused is guilty or not guilty based on the evidence and the instruction I will give you,” Osborn said.

Closing statements

On Thursday morning, Hasan had the opportunity to make a closing statement, but he declined.

“The defense chooses not to make a closing statement,” Hasan said after prosecutor Col. Steven Henricks delivered a detailed 90-minute summary of the evidence against the 42-year-old Army psychiatrist.

Hasan also presented no defense Wednesday, resting his case without calling a single witness or testifying. His lack of action has lent some credence to his legal team’s belief that the American-born Muslim major wants a death sentence. Hasan told a sanity board in 2010 a death by execution would make him a “martyr.”

Henricks told the jury Hasan had a “jihad duty to kill” soldiers on Nov. 5, 2009, stating the gun Hasan used became analogous to a smart bomb.

Henricks said Hasan deliberately picked that date to target two units he knew would be deploying to Afghanistan. Henricks said Hasan carried his medical records to the building where the shooting occurred “to fit in,” and the move showed he planned the attack.

“He could not pick a better location, and that was his motivation,” Henricks said of Station 13 in the medical building, adding that Hasan made the crowded waiting area “his personal kill station.”

Henricks replayed a 911 call from the building along with a bloody crime scene video showing the aftermath of the shooting. He summarized witness accounts of Hasan continuing to fire upon soldiers outside of the building, including the testimony of Steven Douglas Bennett, who told the court Monday that Hasan was concealing his handgun when Bennett approached him. Hasan then told Bennett to not worry because it was only a training exercise.

“He’s kept his wits about him,” Henricks said. “He’s looking for more soldiers to kill.”

Henricks then went through the deaths of each victim, making particular note of Pfc. Frederick Z. Greene, who was one of three killed in the shooting while charging Hasan.

“He had to shoot him 12 times to take him down,” Henricks said. “Why? So he could continue his goals that day … so he could continue to shoot defenseless soldiers that were shot and already on the ground.”

Hasan’s medical education and training with the laser-sighted FN 5-7 handgun gave him the expertise to carry out the mass shooting with great precision, Henricks said. The location of wounds showed Hasan was aiming for heads and hearts.

Rose L. Thayer contributed to this report.

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