FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Bell County Sheriff's Department via The Temple Daily Telegram shows Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist charged in the deadly 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage. Credit: AP
DALLAS (TheBlaze/AP) -- Maj. Nidal Hasan will stand trial in a court-martial that starts Tuesday for the shooting rampage at Fort Hood that left 13 people dead and more than 30 people wounded at the Texas Army post on Nov. 5, 2009.
The Obama administration has labeled the attack "workplace violence despite Hasan's insistence that the United States is an "enemy" to Islam.
Victims have extremely vocal about their disapproval of the administration's handling of the deadly attack, which they say was clearly a terrorist attack. Fort Hood survivor Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford recently blasted Attorney General Eric Holder for refusing to classify the shooting as a terrorist attack, in effect denying the victims the appropriate military decorations, such as a Purple Heart, and other combat-related benefits.
“Not only am I disappointed, I’m embarrassed. Mr. Holder needs to understand the repercussions of his actions…that’s a proven fact that he is a terrorist,” Lunsford said. “For Mr. Holder to even make a suggestion from the Department of Justice going to DoD’s business, that’s not his lane.”
If you haven't been following the case closely, here are some key details to keep in mind as well as some things to expect from the trial:
Via the Associated Press:
8. WHAT CHARGES DOES HASAN FACE?
Hasan faces 13 specifications of premeditated murder and 32 specifications of attempted premeditated murder under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. If convicted, he would face the death penalty.
7. WHY HAS THE CASE TAKEN SO LONG TO PROSECUTE?
Judges in the case have granted a series of delays for preparation or other issues, often at the request of Hasan or his attorneys. A fight over Hasan's beard, which violates military regulations, led to a stay shortly before the trial was expected to begin last year and the eventual replacement of the judge. Legal experts have said authorities are doing their best to avoid mistakes that could lead to a reversal of any guilty verdict, noting that Hasan would have multiple mandatory appeals if he's found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. Military appeals courts have overturned most death sentences they've seen in the last three decades.
6. WHAT WILL THE VICTIMS SAY AT TRIAL?
Many of those wounded in the attack are expected to testify. Some of them have already described that day in open court, during a hearing three years ago to determine whether Hasan would stand trial. One victim, Spc. Alan Carroll, recalled playing dead so Hasan wouldn't shoot him again. Another, Staff Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford, said he remembered a woman shouting about the gunman: "He's one of ours! He's one of ours!"
In this Tuesday, June 4, 2013, retired Staff Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford holds one of the bullets removed from his body after he was wounded in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage, at his home in Lillington, N.C. Credit: AP
In this Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013, photo, retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Shawn Manning poses for a photo, at his home in Lacey, Wash., as he holds a memorial bracelet for members of his military unit who were killed in a 2009 mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas. Credit: AP
FILE - This file combination image shows handout photos of the victims killed during the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas. From top left, Michael Grant Cahill, 62, of Cameron, Texas; Maj. Libardo Eduardo Caraveo, 52, of Woodbridge, Va.; Staff Sgt. Justin M. DeCrow, 32, of Evans, Ga.; Capt. John Gaffaney, 56, of San Diego, Calif. ; Spc. Frederick Greene, 29, of Mountain City, Tenn. ; Spc. Jason Dean Hunt, 22, of Frederick, Okla., Sgt. Amy Krueger, 29, of Kiel, Wis.; Pfc. Aaron Thomas Nemelka, 19, of West Jordan, Utah; Pfc. Michael Pearson, 22, of Bolingbrook, Ill.; Capt. Russell Seager, 51, of Racine, Wis.; Pvt. Francheska Velez, 21, of Chicago; Lt. Col. Juanita Warman, 55, of Havre de Grace, Md.; and Pfc. Kham Xiong, 23, of St. Paul, Minn. Credit: AP
5. WHAT WILL HASAN SAY?
Hasan is representing himself at trial. He wanted to argue that he carried out the shooting in "defense of others" - namely, Muslim insurgents fighting American soldiers in Afghanistan - but the judge, Col. Tara Osborn, denied that strategy. Osborn has also told him that he will not be able to make speeches about his beliefs or try to testify himself when he's questioning witnesses.
However, Fox News on Monday released excerpts from Hasan's Sanity Board evaluation and it seems to quote him as saying: "We are imperfect Muslims, trying to establish the perfect religion of all-mighty Allah as supreme on the land."
Read more below via Fox News:
4. WHAT IS HASAN'S PHYSICAL CONDITION?
Hasan was shot in the back by officers responding to the shootings. He is now paralyzed from the waist down, confined to a wheelchair, uses a catheter and wears adult diapers. His doctor testified earlier this year that Hasan cannot sit upright for more than 12 hours a day without his concentration being affected, requiring testimony to conclude each day by 5 p.m. at the latest since inmates at his jail wake up before dawn. Hasan also requires 15- to 20-minute stretching breaks about every four hours, and has to lift himself off his wheelchair for about a minute every half hour to avoid developing sores.
3. IS HASAN STILL CONSIDERED A SOLDIER?
Yes. He has retained his rank of major and his salary even in jail. Recently, he has worn a camouflage uniform in court instead of the dress uniform defendants typically wear in a court-martial. Osborn has said the camouflage uniform is easier for him to wear as a paraplegic.
2. HOW DOES A MILITARY COURT-MARTIAL DIFFER FROM A CIVILIAN CRIMINAL TRIAL?
The judge, the prosecutors and the attorneys standing by to help Hasan are military officers, as are the 13 jurors, who range in rank from colonel to major. The jurors must be unanimous to find Hasan guilty of premeditated murder. If that happens, Hasan's case would quickly proceed to a capital sentencing hearing, where prosecutors try to prove one or more aggravating factors that merit a death sentence. One aggravating factor would be the killing of more than one person in an incident. Jurors must be unanimous to sentence him to death. However, three-quarters of the jury must vote yes to convict Hasan for attempted murder. The military courts system also does not have hung juries: If one of the 13 jurors votes Hasan not guilty of murder, he would be declared not guilty.
1. WHAT HAPPENS IF HE'S SENTENCED TO DEATH?
The death sentence would need to be affirmed by Fort Hood's commanding authority, which would prompt automatic appeals at two military courts for the Army and then the armed forces. If those fail, Hasan could ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review his case and file motions in federal court. The U.S. president must eventually approve a military death sentence.
Five condemned soldiers are currently on the military death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. If their cases are any guide, it would likely be decades before Hasan were executed. Many death row inmates have had their sentences overturned on appeal, and no active-duty soldier has been executed in the military system since 1961.