To the Editor:
Killeen businessmen supposedly want to give Killeen a quick face lift and promote a “positive image” to media visitors during the Hasan trial (“Killeen seeks to boost image as media descent for Hasan trial,” KDH, Aug. 12). Sadly, the tenor of the article is precisely the reason why I have long argued Major Hasan cannot and will not receive a fair trial in the Fort Hood community.
Many folks have publicly complained about the time and expense associated with the Hasan trial. Most have spoken out of sheer ignorance about the facts and without understanding the death penalty trial process.
The cost and delay associated with the Hasan case stems directly from the fact that the U.S. Army chose to make it a death-penalty show trial.
The Hasan case is bigger than Fort Hood. It is being funded and choreographed out of the Pentagon. The Army mission is clear — secure a conviction and a death sentence, even though the case will remain in appellate channels for decades. The Army seemingly does care not that a sentence to death — even if never executed — would make him a martyr in the eyes of some.
Fort Hood’s last experience with a death penalty case warrants mention. In 1989, Pvt. (Dwight) Loving was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of two Killeen cab drivers. He has been on death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., for more than 23 years and no execution date is scheduled. By comparison, Major Hasan’s case is far more complex; thus, the appellate process reasonably can be expected to be protracted and very costly.
With the Hasan trial about to commence in earnest, it would behoove readers to reflect upon whether a temporary face lift to the downtown area will really change the long-term memory that visitors will harbor about how the Army and local community approached this case. The public would benefit from a serious reread of the U.S. Constitution and refresher course in civics since our ability to protect the fragile fabric of criminal justice is seriously tested in difficult cases like that which is now before us. Against this background, we should join in common prayer for Major Hasan instead of worrying about how to spruce up the untidy areas of Killeen and its environs.
John P. Galligan
Editor’s note: Galligan is a former defense attorney for Maj. Nidal Hasan.