Prosecutors rest in Fort Hood shooting trial

Military prosecutors rested their case against the Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people during the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, but whether the soldier plans to do anything to defend himself remains to be seen.

Last Updated: Aug 21, 2013, 09:22 AM IST

Fort Hood (US): Military prosecutors rested their case against the Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people during the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, but whether the soldier plans to do anything to defend himself remains to be seen.

After calling nearly 90 witnesses in only 11 days, prosecutors completed their case against Maj Nidal Hasan. The soldier also is accused of wounding more than 30 people at the Texas Army post during the attack, the worst mass shooting ever on a US military base.

The judge adjourned the trial yesterday, meaning Hasan could begin his case today but he indicated yesterday that he planned to call no witnesses. When reminded by the judge when it was time to formally argue that prosecutors hadn`t proven their case, Hasan declined.

In fact, Hasan has sat mostly silent during the trial despite acting as his own defence attorney. He has questioned only three witnesses and raised few objections, leaving even the judge, Col Tara Osborn, skeptical about whether he would try to convince jurors not to convict him.

If convicted, Hasan could face the death penalty. He is charged with numerous counts of premeditated murder and attempted premeditated murder.

The military defence attorneys ordered to help Hasan during the trial have accused him of trying to secure himself a death sentence. They have asked that their responsibilities be cut back, but Osborn has denied their requests. They have remained in the courtroom, but Hasan rarely speaks to them.

The spectre of an almost-certain appeal has hung over the long-delayed case. If Hasan gets a death sentence, the case would automatically go to the military appeals courts, which have overturned most of the death sentences they have reviewed.

Osborn reminded Hasan that if he takes the witness stand, he would be required to ask and answer his own questions and couldn`t simply make a statement. She also again advised him to take advantage of his standby attorneys, then asked if he still wanted to represent himself.

"I do," Hasan said.

But he told the judge he no longer planned to call a professor of psychology and religion at San Francisco Theological Seminary. He did not give a reason, but the professor was the last of two witnesses Hasan had initially said might testify.

PTI