FORT HOOD — The prosecution may rest its case against Maj. Nidal Hasan today, ending the principal portion of the two-week court-martial far earlier than originally expected.
The prosecution has called more than 80 witnesses and has around seven remaining to testify. After its rests, Hasan will be allowed to present his defense.
The 42-year-old Army psychiatrist has two people on his witness list. It is unclear what points he will try to prove during his defense.
However, the major did show discomfort Monday when a staff sergeant testified Hasan shot at an unarmed civilian.
Hasan cross-examined his first witness since Aug. 6 after Staff Sgt. Juan Carlos Alvarado testified Hasan continued to fire at former Fort Hood police officer Kimberly Munley after he disarmed her.
Hasan questioned if Alvarado witnessed the entire gunfight.
Alvarado ducked behind a nearby building at the Soldier Readiness Processing site when he saw Munley and Hasan begin to exchange fire.
Alvarado told Hasan he saw the entire gunfight and repeatedly referred to the shooter as “you” while speaking to the accused.
“Are you saying that after it was clear that she (Munley) was disarmed that I continued to fire at her?” Hasan asked.
“Yes,” Alvarado replied.
Hasan then quickly told the court he had no further questions. He has only cross-examined three witnesses since his trial began Aug. 6.
Munley was one of only two civilians injured during the shooting. Government prosecutors said Hasan’s alleged selective targeting of soldiers is proof of premeditation.
The breadth of the government’s case was somewhat limited Monday when the judge ruled several pieces of evidence that may have shown Hasan’s sympathy toward Islamic extremism cannot be presented.
Judge Col. Tara Osborn ruled the presentations, authored while Hasan was in medical residency and in a fellowship years before the Nov. 5, 2009, shooting, were too far removed from the actual incident to be considered.
“It is too remote in time and too open to multiple interpretations,” Osborn said of Hasan’s “Grand Rounds” presentation, which he made while at Walter Reed Military Medical Center.
The judge also ruled out any evidence calling the mass shooting a “copycat” crime to former Army Sgt. Hasan Akbar’s attack on soldiers in 2003 that killed two and wounded 14 in Kuwait. Akbar is the last member of the Army to be sentenced to death.
However, Osborn allowed Internet searches and “favorites” from Hasan’s web history extracted from his laptop to be presented, including evidence that he accessed an article two hours before the Fort Hood shooting occurred urging Taliban soldiers to attack the Army.
FBI Special Agent Charles Cox said Hasan searched terms such as “jihadi Muslims,” “Taliban,” “Afghanistan Taliban,” and “Hamas” in the days leading up to Nov. 5, 2009.
Even though a guilty verdict seems assured, Osborn’s ruling delivered a blow to the prosecution’s efforts to prove the attack was premeditated.
The jury needs to unanimously find Hasan preplanned a deliberate attack for the death penalty to remain on the table during sentencing.
The prosecution and Hasan also agreed to redefine jihad. At Hasan’s request, the court publicly referred to an ancient definition of jihad as “central doctrine that calls on believers to combat against the non-believers,” achieved through the heart, the tongue, the hand and the sword.
The court also told the jury anyone killed in the act of jihad would be guaranteed a spot in paradise.
Hasan trial day 10: Who testified
- Jerry Miller — Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive firearms and toolmark expert.
- Special Agent Jamey Albert Gorsuch — Fort Hood Criminal Investigations Division.
- Chief Warrant Officer-2 Kelly Jameson — Fort Hood Criminal Investigations Division.
- Special Agent Charles H. Cox III — FBI
- Staff Sgt. Juan Carlos Alvarado — Witnessed gunfight between Hasan of Fort Hood police.
- Elgia Johnson — Office of the Surgeon General.
- Tasha Carnahan — At nearby graduation ceremony.
- Sgt. Maj. Ronald Brooks — At nearby graduation ceremony.