FORT HOOD (AP) – A hearing to determine if Maj. Nidal Hasan should stand trial for last year’s Fort Hood shooting rampage ended Monday after three minutes when defense attorneys presented no evidence and the Army psychiatrist declined to make a statement.
After a three-week break, Hasan was back in court at Fort Hood to resume his Article 32 hearing. His lawyers chose to call no witnesses at the military court proceeding, later saying they had not received key government reports about the case.
Col. James Pohl, the investigating officer in the case, will make the initial recommendation on whether Hasan should go to trial on 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder for last November’s attack at the Texas Army post. That decision ultimately will be made by a commanding general.
Military officials have not said if they would seek the death penalty if the case goes to trial.
During Monday’s brief court appearance, Pohl asked Hasan if he remembered that Pohl at a previous hearing said that he had the right to make a statement.
“Yes,” Hasan replied softly.
Asked if he wished to make a statement, Hasan responded: “No.”
Hasan was paralyzed from the chest down after being shot by police the day of the attack and has been attending the hearing in a wheelchair. He remains jailed, as the military justice system does not have bail.
More than two dozen soldiers wounded in last year’s shooting rampage were among those who testified in October, describing in chilling detail the attack that killed 12 soldiers and one civilian. Then the hearing was delayed, in part because the defense didn’t want it going on during the anniversary of the Nov. 5, 2009, rampage.
Lt. Col. Kris Poppe, speaking for Hasan’s defense team, told Pohl Monday they would not present evidence. Military law experts say that is not an unusual step for defense attorneys at Article 32 hearings, which are held to determine whether charges should move forward in military court.
John Galligan, Hasan’s lead attorney, told reporters later that he chose not to call witnesses or present other evidence because the government has not provided several reports he has requested. Those include a Pentagon review that revealed failures by several Walter Reed Army Medical Center officers who reviewed Hasan’s performance as a student, internist and psychiatric resident.
During the hearing, prosecutors did not mention any government investigations done after the shooting. The prosecution’s evidence centered on witness accounts the day of the rampage.
But Galligan said the “context and events and issues leading up to 5 November, I think for many many people, is a relevant aspect or issue.”
Galligan said he believed a trial is “where we may end up” but could not guess when that might happen.
Dozens of witnesses have testified that a gunman wearing an Army combat uniform shouted “Allahu Akbar!” — Arabic for “God is great!” — and opened fire in a crowded medical building where deploying soldiers get vaccines and other tests. He fired rapidly, pausing only to reload, even shooting at some soldiers as they hid under desks and fled the building, according to witnesses.
When it was over, investigators found 146 shell casings on the floor, another 68 outside the building and 177 unused rounds of ammunition in the gunman’s pockets.
Authorities and several witnesses identified the gunman as Hasan, an American-born Muslim who was to deploy to Afghanistan the following month.
Before the rampage, Hasan bought a laser-equipped semiautomatic handgun and repeatedly visited a firing range, where he honed his skills by shooting at the heads on silhouette targets, other witnesses said.
Along with testimony, the prosecution presented recordings of 911 calls from three frantic people inside the building, footage that Hasan recorded on his cell phone showing a gun store manager demonstrate how to use a gun, and brief dashboard-camera videos from two officers’ patrol cars as they sped to the scene, parked and ran out. Those videos do not show the gunman.
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