'I Am The Shooter,' Fort Hood Defendant Tells Court
(We updated this post at 11:30 a.m. ET with word that attorneys who are advising Maj. Nidal Hasan want to be excused from the case and at 12:15 p.m. ET with word that the trial had recessed for the day.)
After conceding that "the evidence will clearly show that I am the shooter," Army Maj. Nidal Hasan seems intent on using his trial for the 13 murders at Fort Hood, Texas, to "vent his religious or ideological beliefs," NPR's Martin Kaste said Wednesday on Morning Edition.
During Day 1 of the trial, though, "the judge shut him down on procedural grounds," Martin added.
"Hasan's trial began Tuesday with the Army officer telling the court he committed the shooting and concluded with jurors hearing the dying groans of one of the soldiers who died. Hasan could face the death penalty if convicted of numerous charges for allegedly carrying out the Nov. 5, 2009, mass shooting on post that left 13 dead."
Hasan faces 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder.
After telling the court that the evidence will show he opened fire on soldiers at civilians in Building 42003 of Fort Hood's Soldier Readiness Processing Center, Hasan then went on to say Tuesday that:
"We, the mujahedeen, are imperfect Muslims trying to establish a perfect religion in the land of the supreme God. ... I apologize for any mistakes that I made in this endeavor."
Hasan was shot by civilian security officers at the scene. He's been paralyzed since then and now uses a wheelchair. He's acting as his own lawyer.
During Tuesday's courtroom action, Hasan cross-examined Lt. Ben Phillips, who once "supervised Hasan while he was working as a psychiatrist," as CBS News writes. CBS reports that:
"Hasan tried to ask Phillips about soldiers being ordered to kill unarmed civilians and medical personnel conducting mercy killings, but the judge ruled it outside the scope of cross-examination. Hasan may, however, call this witness during the defense phase of the trial and question about this."
The sounds of panic and the moans of victims were captured on the recording of a 911 call. That recording was played in court Tuesday.
"We heard the shooting, the screaming and then the moaning of a dying man," says Martin, who's covering the trial for NPR.
Last month, we explained why the Uniform Code of Military Justice prevents defendants such as Hasan from pleading guilty in death penalty cases. As South Texas College of Law professor Geoffrey Corn told us, "it's such a grave and significant outcome that it wasn't felt the judgment should rely solely on the accused's plea."
"The second day of Maj. Nidal Hasan's trial ended abruptly today," writes the Killeen Daily Herald, "as his former court-appointed defense attorneys — who are still on staff to assist the accused Fort Hood shooter — filed a motion to either be totally removed from the case or be reinstated as Hasan's official lead defense team. The trial judge, Col. Tara Osborn, recessed proceedings until Thursday morning in response to the attorneys' request."
NPR's Martin Kaste reports that in the courtroom this morning the lawyers who have been assigned to advise Hasan asked to be excused from the case, saying they think Hasan is trying to be given the death penalty. They told the judge it is repugnant to be part of an effort to effectively commit suicide and that Hasan is basically aiding the prosecution.