Prosecutors rest in Fort Hood shooting trial
FORT HOOD, Texas — Military prosecutors rested their case Tuesday 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 U.S. military base.
The judge then adjourned the trial for the day, meaning Hasan could begin his case Wednesday — but he indicated Tuesday 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 defense 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.
“We’ll resume tomorrow with the defense’s case, if any,” she said.
If convicted, Hasan could face the death penalty. He is charged with numerous counts of premeditated murder and attempted premeditated murder.
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.
The move visibly concerned Osborn, who said she wanted the professor at Fort Hood in case Hasan changed his mind.
“I object. I’m not going to be using him,” Hasan said. “So to waste his time when he has other professional responsibilities doesn’t seem fitting, when I don’t intend to use him.”