FORT HOOD — Eight victims Maj. Nidal Hasan admittedly shot on Nov. 5, 2009, have testified today, giving individual accounts of the waiting area where most victims were shot.
Each witness gave consistent testimony, telling the court they initially believed the shooting was a training exercise. Even some of those wounded in the attack thought they had been hit with rubber bullets or paintballs.
"I said 'What did that stupid (expletive) hit me with? Training isn't supposed to hurt this bad,'" Capt. Brandy Mason told the court.
Spc. Keara Torkelson was one of the first to realize the nature of the attack. Torkelson said she felt a burning sensation to the back of her head. He rubbed what turned out to be a gun shot wound and saw blood on her hand.
She turned to a sergeant sitting nearby and said the bullets were real.
Sgt. 1st Class Paul Martin said he wondered how he would get his uniform clean in time for deployment if someone was shooting him with paintballs.
The deep red color of blood he saw emerging from a wound to the arm made Martin realize he had been shot. Martin was shot three times, but managed to escape the building after it appeared the shooter had moved away from an exit.
"I made up my mind that I'm getting out of this building," he said. "I don't care if he shoots me again."
Hasan declined to cross examine any of the witnesses, allaying fears that he may re-traumatize victims through his actions in court.
Former Staff Sgt. Shawn Manning, who medically retired after he was shot six times during the attack, had said he was nervous if Hasan would question him. Hasan did not question him when Manning took the stand today.
While testimony continues today, a portion of Hasan's legal team is preparing to appeal a judge's decision in an attempt to distance themselves from the case.
Hasan authorized two of his standby counsel to leave the court today in order to prepare an emergency writ they will likely file with the Army Court of Criminal Appeals.
Presiding judge, Col. Tara Osborn, permitted the two lawyers to leave the courtroom to create the appeal, which will challenge Osborn's ruling on Thursday, which denied their request to stop advising Hasan or take over his case.
Hasan's former lead defense attorney, Lt. Col. Kris R. Poppe, told the court on Wednesday he believes Hasan desires a death sentence and argued it is unethical for the legal team to assist the major in any fashion if he is courting death.
Contact Philip Jankowski at email@example.com or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.