By Lee Hancock
Tuesday, November 16, 2010; A17
FORT HOOD, TEX. - With two words, yes and no, Army Maj. Nidal Hasan declined to offer any statement Monday on his role in last year's massacre at a soldier- readiness center.
The psychiatrist's defense attorneys took less than a minute of his pretrial hearing to inform the presiding officer that they would not present evidence or call witnesses. In a soft, clear voice, Hasan said he understood he had the right to offer a statement but did not want to make one - even if it was not made under oath.
That came after eight days of prosecution testimony about the Nov. 5, 2009, shooting. More than a dozen of the 56 witnesses identified Hasan as the man in a combat uniform who rose in front of a crowded waiting area and opened fire. Just before the shooting began, many of the witnesses recounted, the gunman yelled "Allahu Akbar," the Arabic exhortation meaning "God is great." By the time the attack ended, more than 200 rounds had been fired, killing 13 people and wounding 32.
Hasan allegedly stopped shooting only when he was wounded by a civilian police officer, injuries that left him paralyzed from the waist down. He is being held in pretrial confinement in the Bell County jail.
Hasan faces 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of premeditated attempted murder. The pretrial proceeding, known as an Article 32 hearing, will help Army commanders determine whether Hasan should face a full court-martial.
The senior Army judge assigned to preside over the hearing, Col. James Pohl, will prepare a written report detailing evidence against Hasan and recommendations on how the case should go forward.
It could be early next year before Pohl's report is completed. And then it could take months more to prepare for a trial. Among decisions that will have to be made is the question of whether the case can be heard at Fort Hood and whether prosecutors will seek the death penalty.
- Dallas Morning News