News / USA

Hasan Admits to Deadly Fort Hood Shootings

Nidal Malik Hasan is pictured in an undated police handout photograph.
Nidal Malik Hasan is pictured in an undated police handout photograph.
Greg Flakus
U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan has presented his opening argument in a Fort Hood, Texas courtroom, telling jurors, known in military trials as panel members, that evidence will show that he opened fire on the base on November 5, 2009.  He has been charged with 13 counts of murder for the shooting and could face the death penalty.  But, he may have shortened the trial process by not disputing the government's evidence.

In opening statements, Hasan, who is representing himself, conceded that the evidence would show that he was responsible for the shooting that resulted in the deaths of 12 fellow soldiers and a civilian.  Hasan said he had "changed sides" to defend his religion, Islam, from U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Former military lawyer Greg Rinckey of the Tully Rinckey firm in Washington says such an admission in court is highly unusual.

"It is very odd for a defendant to say, 'I was the shooter,' however; it appears clear that he is trying to make some religious rationale for the shooting.  He is trying to justify it in some sort of way as some sort of jihad," said Rinckey.

In their opening statement, military prosecutors summarized evidence that they said would prove that Hasan had planned and carried out the attack.  Later, they brought to the stand several witnesses who testified that Hasan had purchased weapons and practiced with them on a shooting range.  When they presented a handgun as evidence, Hasan said, "Your Honor, that is my weapon."

In capital cases, military law does not allow for a guilty plea and prosecutors are required to present evidence before a jury, which is called a panel.

In addition, military courts allow panel members to ask questions of witnesses, according to Greg Rinckey, but not directly.

"Basically, they have to write out their questions, the judge has to review it and then the defense and by the government and, if there is no objection, the question is usually asked by the judge," he said.

Rinckey says the government has a large amount of evidence and testimony to present and panel members could slow down the proceedings considerably if they ask many questions.

"We do see panel members in these cases asking questions, usually they are very involved in the cases and it can sometimes take several hours to go through the questions, especially if there is an objection," he said.

Rinckey says it is probably too soon to tell how long this trial might last.  He says it should take at least two weeks for the government to present all its evidence, but it is difficult to speculate on what Hasan might do.  The presiding judge, Colonel Tara Osborn, told the panel the trial could last months.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid