The Army psychiatrist accused in the deadliest mass shooting ever on a U.S. military installation told jurors Tuesday that evidence would "clearly show" he was the gunman during the 2009 attack on Fort Hood that left 13 people dead, but he insisted it wouldn't tell the whole story.
The court-martial hearing for Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, 42, began Tuesday under heavy security at Fort Hood, where guards stood watch with long assault rifles outside the courthouse. Meanwhile, a long row of shipping freight containers, stacked three high, created a fence around the building, which was almost entirely hidden by 15-foot-tall stacks of heavy, shock-absorbing barriers that extend to the roofline.
Opening statements were made by the prosecution and Hasan, who is representing himself in the hearing.
Fort Hood spokesman Tom Rheinlander offered summaries of the day's events. Twelve people testified Tuesday and evidence that Hasan bought a weapon and practiced using that weapon at a gun range was presented.
Witnesses testified that Hasan was soon to deploy and had given away his possessions before the shooting.
Four witnesses testified Tuesday afternoon, including a member of a local mosque, a victim of the mass shooting and a witness to the shooting.
The member of the mosque testified about his final conversation with Hasan after services on the morning of Nov. 5, 2009. He said that Hasan said goodbye and stated that he was going on a journey.
A neighbor saw Hasan several hours later, just before he allegedly appeared at the SRP site on Fort Hood.
Retired Staff Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford also testified, saying Hasan shot him seven times. Lunsford praised three fellow SRP employees for rendering medical aid under the gunfire.
A civilian employee, Michelle Harper, said she saw the shooting of Pfc. Michael Pearson. Harper also said she witnessed the shootout between Hasan and Officer Kimberly Munley as she escaped.
Hasan Does Not Question First Witnesses
The first witnesses called have been employees of Guns Galore, a gun store in nearby Killeen where Hasan bought guns and ammunition used in the attack. Hasan chose not to cross examine any of the initial witnesses.
Hasan's Opening Statement
In his opening remarks, Hasan briefly laid out his defense as he addressed jurors during the first day of the long-delayed trial for the attack that killed 13 people and left about three dozen injured.
- Hasan said "The evidence will clearly show that I am the shooter."
- Hasan cited his religion, but didn't elaborate.
- He later adding that it also would show "that we are imperfect Muslims trying to establish the perfect religion... I apologize for any mistakes I made in this endeavor."
- Hasan had wanted to argue that he shot U.S. troops to protect Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. But the judge forbade the American-born Muslim from using the defense of others strategy in his defense.
- Hasan claimed in court he was on the wrong side, referring to his military service for the U.S., and that he considers himself a Mujahideen -- or a warrior for his faith. He stated he switched sides and created the bloody scene at the Texas base.
Prosecutors Opening Statement
“The evidence will show that Maj. Nadal Hasan was that gunman,” said Col. Steven Hendricks, a preosecuting attorney, during opening statements Tuesday. Below are highlights from that opening statment:
- Hendricks said the date of Nov. 5, 2009, was chosen for a specific reason and that diagrams of the scene, and descriptions of Hasan’s methodical attack, showed preparation before the event was being planned months in advance of the shooting.
- Hasan visited “Guns Galore” in Killeen where he purchased weapons and ammunition and learned how to use them. He went to a gun range and practiced. He told a witness “They’ve got another thing coming if they think they’re going to deploy me.”
- Hasan gave away possessions at this apartment complex.
- During the morning of Nov. 5, 2009, the prosecution said Hasan left his apartment with guns and ammo, drove his Honda Civic to the post and entered the readiness building to sit with the soldiers.
- Prosecutors said Hasan carried an automatic pistol with two laser sights and 320 rounds of ammunition. Hasan also carried a .357 revolver fully loaded. He sat among other soldiers in the readiness building, shouted ‘Allah Akbar” and began shooting at uniformed soldiers.
- Prosecutors said many of the soldiers knew Hasan and recognized him at the scene. Some of the dead were shot many times. One civilian tried to charge Hasan with a chair and was shot. Many victims hid under desks as Hasan roved through the building. He shot at soldiers but seemed to spare civilians, prosecutors said.
- Outside a building, a witness walked up to Hasan carrying the pistol and asked him what was happening. Hasan replied a training exercise was underway. Attorneys said Hasan bypassed a graduation ceremony without firing.
- After the attack, at Hasan’s Killeen apartment, investigators found notes about what units would be deploying and when they would be at the readiness center.
- Also at the apartment, in his laptop computer, investigators found history of Google searches conducted in the months prior to the attack for "jihad, killing women and children, and suicide attacks."
- Prosecutors said Hasan had two motives: He did not want to deploy and he wanted to stop other soldiers from deploying.
- The prosecution seeks unanimous verdicts on all counts.
NBC 5 Investigations Show Cost of Jailing Hasan
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As Hasan awaited his trial, the costs to American taxpayers and military security officials continued to rise.
Documents obtained by the NBC 5 Investigates team showed costs of over $500,000 by June 2013, including security and housing for the accused gunman.
Meanwhile, another NBC 5 Investigates report showed Hasan will continue to receive his salary as an Army major unless he is proven guilty in court.
Additionally, NBC 5 Investigates has learned Hasan receives extraordinary treatment in jail, including rides in a helicopter for the 20-mile journey between the Bell County Jail and Fort Hood. The Army has not released the information requested in a Freedom of Information Act request reguarding the cost of the helicopter transportation.