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July 09, 2013

Fort Hood Shooter Trial Begins Tuesday

by Greg Flakus

The military court-martial of Major Nidal Hasan, accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood in November 2009, is set to begin at the central Texas army base on Tuesday.  After delays lasting more than three years, many at Fort Hood and in the neighboring Texas city of Killeen, are anxious to see the process finish. But some experts say the slow process was the right one.

The mass shooting and the arrest of one of its own was devastating to the military base and to the nearby town of Killeen.

Most residents are connected directly or indirectly to Fort Hood. They are angry about the shooting and the delay in bringing Major Hasan to justice.

"We all know he's guilty. He admits he did it. Let's just get it over with," one resident complained.

"There shouldn't be a trial about it. He did what he did and everybody saw that he did it," noted another resident.

Retired Army Staff Sergeant Dorothy Ann Grogan-Gardner was nearby when the shooting started.  She said the army could have prevented the massacre if it had taken note of Hasan's conversion to radical Islam.

"His behavior, his mannerisms, the things he was saying; the red flags were there," she said.

Some of those who were wounded in the attack have filed suit against Hasan and the U.S. government.  Many residents cheer that effort.

Killeen Mayor Dan Corbin said the suits are not likely to go far. But he understands why residents, with their ties to Fort Hood, take this case personally.

"The first thing we dealt with was the shock and the grief. That was followed by a period of anger at the perpetrator," the mayor explained, "and, since then, disappointment at how slowly the wheels of justice seem to turn.”

Military Law expert Geoffrey Corn, who teaches at the South Texas College of Law, said the court's deliberate pace in preparing the trial against Hasan will pay off.

"I prefer the word methodical rather than slow," Corn said. "Haste, in this case, could have gotten a conviction and it would have been in jeopardy on appeal."

While the delays have been painful for many, Mayor Corbin said people in Killeen are ready to handle their emotions.

"We are a very resilient community. You have to understand that more soldiers deploying out of Fort Hood have been killed than from any other post," he stressed. “We have attended so many funerals and dealt with so much grief that when this happened in 2009, it was, to a certain extent, just more of the same.”

Uniformed military personnel stationed at Fort Hood, speaking off camera, said they are just going about their work and not thinking too much about the trial, but they are glad to see it's finally getting underway.