Athens Review, Athens, Texas

In the News

August 6, 2013

Maj. Hasan: Evidence will show 'I am the shooter'

Athens —

FORT HOOD, Texas — The Army psychiatrist accused in the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood targeted fellow soldiers in a meticulously planned attack that included stockpiling bullets and researching Taliban leaders calling for jihad, a military prosecutor said Tuesday during the opening day of the long-awaited trial.

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan spent time at a shooting range and purchased a pistol and extender kit to hold more ammunition before carrying out his plan to "kill as many soldiers as he could," Col. Steve Henricks told jurors. The shooting, which killed 13 people and injured more than 30 others, remains the deadliest mass shooting ever on a U.S. military installation.

Acting as his own attorney, Hasan told jurors the evidence would "clearly show" he was the gunman. But the American-born Muslim said the whole story wouldn't be revealed during the trial, which is under heavy security — including armed guards and 15-foot-tall stacks of shock-absorbing barriers — on the sprawling Texas military base.

Still, prosecutors are being careful. Hasan is charged with numerous counts of murder and attempted murder, and he would face the death penalty if convicted, but death sentences are often overturned in military courts.

Jurors were told by the judge to prepare for a trial that could take several months. Hasan, who is confined to a wheelchair, needs regular breaks because he was paralyzed after being shot by officers responding to the shooting.

On the day of the attack, Hasan sat among his fellow soldiers preparing to deploy at a building on the sprawling Army base. He had masked the sound of his equipment by stuffing paper towels into the pockets of his cargo pants, Henricks said.

"All those fully loaded magazines do not clink, do not move, do not give him away," the prosecutors told jurors, all military officers, during his opening statement. "He sits among the soldiers he's about to kill with his head down."

Hasan tried to clear the area of civilians, even walking over to a civilian data clerk to tell her she was needed elsewhere in the building because a supervisor was looking for her. The prosecutor said the clerk thought that was odd but went anyway.

"He then yelled 'Allahu akbar!' and opened fire on unarmed, unsuspecting and defenseless soldiers," Henricks told the jury, noting that one of the soldiers who was killed ran after Hasan armed with nothing but a chair.

When Hasan left the building, a civilian approached him and asked what was going on. Hasan told him not to worry about it, and the civilian "walks away from the encounter unscathed," the prosecutor said. Hasan allegedly told another civilian that there was a training exercise going on and he was carrying a paintball gun.

Hasan only shot at one civilian who tried to stop him, Henricks said.

Henricks also said Hasan picked the date of the attack — Nov. 5, 2009 — for a specific reason, though he didn't immediately reveal details.

Hasan spoke for less than 2 minutes during his opening statement, which offered few details but touched on his religion.

"The evidence will clearly show that I am the shooter," said Hasan, who occasionally leafed through paperwork with his right hand while seated at the defense table. He added later that the evidence would show, "that we are imperfect Muslims trying to establish the perfect religion. ... I apologize for any mistakes I made in this endeavor."

Hasan had tried to plead guilty, but military law requires a not-guilty plea in death penalty cases. That failed effort was among numerous requests that delayed the trial for years. A fight over his beard, which violates military regulations, led to a stay shortly before his trial was expected to begin last year and the eventual replacement of the judge.

Hasan dismissed his attorneys earlier this year, and his brief opening statement on Tuesday mirrored his demeanor during jury selection last month when he did not speak often and asked only a few questions about religion.

He had wanted to argue that he carried out the shooting in "defense of others," namely members of the Taliban fighting in Afghanistan, but the judge denied that strategy. Over the next several weeks, he is expected to question witnesses and possibly present his own evidence — which will likely turn the trial into a faceoff between the gunman and his victims.

On the witness stand will be many of the more than 30 people who were wounded, plus dozens of others who were inside the post's Soldier Readiness Processing Center. They've also said they saw Hasan shout "Allahu akbar!" — Arabic for "God is great!" — and opened fire on unarmed fellow soldiers.

The government has said that Hasan had sent more than a dozen emails starting in December 2008 to Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical U.S.-born Islamic cleric killed by a drone strike in Yemen in 2011.

Hasan has never denied carrying out the attack, and the facts of the case are mostly settled. But questions abound about how the trial will play out. How will Hasan question his victims? How will victims respond? How will his health hold up?

The defendant is paralyzed from the waist down. He requires 15- to 20-minute stretching breaks about every four hours, and he has to lift himself off his wheelchair for about a minute every half hour to avoid developing sores.

Staff Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford, who was wounded, is expected to testify. He said he looked forward to seeing Hasan, in a way.

"I'm not going to dread anything. That's a sign of fear," Lunsford said. "That man strikes no fear in my heart. He strikes no fear in my family. What he did to me was bad. But the biggest mistake that he made was I survived. So he will see me again."

But Staff Sgt. Shawn Manning said he dreaded the expected confrontation.

"I have to keep my composure and not go after the guy," said Manning, a mental health specialist who was preparing to deploy to Afghanistan with Hasan. "I'm not afraid of him, obviously. He's a paralyzed guy in a wheelchair, but it's sickening that he's still living and breathing."

 

1
Text Only
In the News
  • Realignment coming to Athens ISD

    The Athens Independent School District school board approved campus realignment Monday that will go into effect for the 2015-16 school year.

    July 29, 2014

  • Trial begins in case over Oklahoma City bombing

    The FBI has done a thorough search of its archives and found no evidence that more Oklahoma City bombing videos exist, federal attorneys told a judge on Monday during the first day of a trial that has rekindled long-dormant questions about whether others were involved in the devastating 1995 attack.

    July 28, 2014

  • Kendall Sanders.jpg Kendall Sanders charged with felony sexual assault, improper photography

    A University of Texas police spokeswoman says two Longhorns football players have been charged with felony sexual assault and their arrests are pending.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Man gets 2nd death sentence in Dallas slaying

     A jury sentenced a Dallas man to death a second time Wednesday for the 1986 killing of a Dallas civil rights attorney and his wife.

    July 24, 2014

  • Texas woman sentenced to life in stepson's death

     A North Texas jury has sentenced a woman to life in prison for the 2011 starvation death of her 10-year-old stepson.

    July 23, 2014

  • Parsons Athens woman confesses to killing daughter

    Stacie Marie Parsons, 25, walked into the Athens Police Department at 8:46 a.m. Monday and confessed to killing her 4-year-old daughter.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • g000258000000000000f99cd4724578efa27c155fb3a1dcc7c68e3109e5.jpg Suspects sought in armed robberies in Corsicana

    Corsicana Police are looking for suspects in a pair of armed robberies the past week.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Feds: Texas voting maps deliberately discriminated

     The U.S. Justice Department told judges Monday that Texas lawmakers carefully crafted electoral maps marginalizing minority voters despite the state's exploding Hispanic population in a deliberate effort to racially discriminate and protect conservative incumbents.

    July 14, 2014

  • Four children among six dead in suburban Houston shooting

      A father opened fire at a suburban Houston home Wednesday, killing four of his children as well as two adults who were with them, and critically wounding his 15-year-old daughter, authorities said.

    July 10, 2014

  • Corsicana firefighter killed in one-car crash

     An off-duty Corsicana fireman was killed and his two young sons were injured in a one-car crash on FM 709 north of Dawson Tuesday night.

    An off-duty Corsicana fireman was killed and his two young sons were injured in a one-car crash on FM 709 north of Dawson Tuesday night.

    Justice of the Peace Jackie Freeland identified the deceased fireman as Louis Lachney, 46. He was a Lieutenant with the Corsicana Fire Department.

    The crash was reported at 11:27 p.m. Tuesday and occurred  at a sharp curve in the roadway on FM 709 about two miles north of State Highway 31 near Dawson.

    DPS Sgt. Thomas Moore, supervisor at the crash site, said Lachney’s convertible Mazda was traveling north on FM 709 and failed to negotiate a sharp curve, leaving the roadway and overturning several times.

    Moore said Lachney and his two sons who were passengers in the car were all ejected from the vehicle. Moore said the three were apparently not wearing seat belts.

    The two injured boys walked to the roadway following the crash where they were discovered by a passing motorist, who notified law enforcement of the crash.

    Moore said the two boys were transported by air ambulance to a Dallas hospital. He said they were in serious but stable condition when transported from the crash site.

    DPS Trooper LaTonya Daniels is investigating the crash. Corsicana EMS, volunteer firefighters, and Navarro County Sheriff's Office deputies assisted at the crash site. - See more at: http://www.corsicanadailysun.com/local/x611407136/Corsicana-firefighter-killed-in-one-car-crash#sthash.cKzZVvbj.dpuf

    July 9, 2014

Biz Marquee
AP Video
Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando