HARKER HEIGHTS — Jury selection began Tuesday in the trial of accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan, and many local residents said it’s about time.

Killeen resident Kay Mansfield talked about the Hasan case Tuesday afternoon as she lunched at Papa’s Café in Harker Heights. Fighting back tears, she said the trial should have been completed by now.

“It’s just taken way too long, and I feel so sorry for the people who were killed and injured,” she said. “It just seemed like an awful lot of delays. I know they want to be sure that there is no reason for appeals when this is over, and that they want to do it as fair as possible.”

Bruce Dodd and Doug Schmidt of Waxahachie rode their motorcycles to Killeen on Tuesday to check out the Harley-Davidson shops in the area, stopping for lunch at Papa’s Café. The two friends were excited to learn the trial had finally begun.

“The guy did it,” Dodd said, watching news of the trial unfold on the café’s TV. “He walked in and did his thing and he is guilty.”

Dodd, who has kept up with the Hasan case through the media, believes Hasan committed a “terrorist” act on the military installation.

“I think it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars, but it’s got to go through the system and the process,” he said. “The man committed the crime, and now he is trying to find a loophole so he could get away with it.”

Schmidt, an Army veteran, expressed extreme dismay over the many trial delays. He said the government wasted too much time bringing Hasan into the courtroom.

“They don’t need a jury,” he said. “They need a group of veterans to prosecute him and take care of the man. He is laughing at us because he infiltrated in our territory.”

Schmidt said the military should tighten up background checks for all who sign up for military duty.

William Muenter, of Harker Heights, also watched TV coverage of the trial’s first day. A retired Army veteran, Muenter doesn’t agree with the process the military took to bring the case to justice.

“I think they had too many delays,” he said. “It doesn’t make any difference if the guy had a beard or not and I think the trial should have went on. There’s no reason for the military to take that long.”

Muenter served as a court-martial juror three times while deployed to Vietnam. He said each of those cases was completed in one year.

Jury selection in the Hasan trial could take weeks. Testimony is scheduled to begin Aug. 6.

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