Witnesses Testify In 1st Day Of Fort Hood Shooting Court Martial
FORT HOOD (CBS 11 NEWS) – Testimony is underway in the court martial of alleged Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Malik Hasan. The Army officer is accused of going on a rampage on the post, killing 13 fellow soldiers and wounding 31 others.
During opening statements this morning, prosecutors told the panel of military officers that will decide Hasan’s fate that “the evidence will show Major Nidal Hasan was that lone gunman.”
Prosecutor Col. Steve Hendricks also told the panel that evidence would show Hasan’s plans were to “kill as many soldiers as he could.”
Hasan, who is representing himself at the court martial, has yet to cross examine any testifying witnesses.
The first witness called by military prosecutors was the manager of a Killeen gun store who told the panel Hasan frequented his business. “Mr. Hasan asked me to give him a demonstration to assemble, disassemble and clean a weapon,” the gun store employee said, adding, “He asked to record me going through these steps.”
The court was then showed the video that Hasan allegedly recorded using his cell phone.
Hasan told the judge he had no questions for the witness or two others who testified about his frequent visits to Guns Galore. Another gun store employee testified Hasan bought a lot of ammunition, but otherwise did not seem unusual.
A retired Fort Hood soldier later testified that he talked guns with Hasan for about an hour in the Summer of 2009. He told the panel that the accused wanted “the most technologically advanced handgun on the market.” When the soldier asked Hasan what he needed the weapon for he said Hasan “really didn’t give me an explanation on that.”
Morning court martial activity included a gruesome description of the crime scene, which is only a short distance away from the military court area.
Hasan was inside a deployment center with hundreds of soldiers undergoing vaccinations before heading overseas when he allegedly opened fire with a laser sighted pistol and a .357 revolver.
Prosecutors say Hasan distracted a clerk and blocked an entrance before “opening fire on defenseless soldiers.” Hasan was eventually wounded and paralyzed when confronted by authorities.
During Mondays court proceedings the names of the dead soldiers were read aloud, along with where they were shot. Family members of the dead soldiers were in the courtroom when prosecutors revealed 146 rounds were fired by the Army psychiatrist, who was reportedly driven by Islamic extremism.
The computer inside Hasan’s Killeen apartment was searched and authorities found internet searches for “fatwa” and “suicide bombing” along with a newspaper article titled “A call to jihad.”
The jury panel heard prosecutors claims that Hasan started buying weapons for his mass murder plot months beforehand and shortly after he was assigned to Fort Hood.
Prosecutors say Hasan made a number of purchases at Guns Galore in Killeen and began training to use them.
When Hasan was notified he would soon be sent to Afghanistan in the fall of 2009 he allegedly told a witness, “they’ve got another thing coming if they think they’re going to deploy me.”
Hasan soon began giving away his possessions according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors say the morning of the massacre Hasan carefully hid his guns when he arrived on the post.
Prosecutors say the motive for the shooting was that Hasan did not want to deploy and had a jihad duty.
The military is seeking the death penalty in the case. The judge has refused to accept Hasan’s guilty plea which would have resulted in a life sentence.
During Hasan’s brief opening statement he told the panel, “the evidence will show that I was on the wrong side. We in the Mujahideen are imperfect; I apologize for any mistakes I made in this endeavor.”
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