Tags: US | Fort | Hood | Shooting

Prosecutors near End in Fort Hood Rampage Hearing

Thursday, 21 Oct 2010 07:05 AM

FORT HOOD, Texas — Lt. Col. James Pohl briefly examined the contents of a stack of folders, quietly read the name and rank of each person on the paperwork and assigned a number. Thirteen red folders, one for each person killed in last year's shooting rampage at Fort Hood.

The folders, each containing an autopsy report, are now in evidence at a military hearing for Maj. Nidal Hasan, who is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder.

Pohl will consider those files, testimony from the dozens of soldiers wounded during the attack and other evidence before recommending whether the Army psychiatrist should stand trial for the worst mass shooting at an American military base.

Defense lawyers haven't said whether they plan to call witnesses, but military prosecutors have called 53 — including several soldiers testifying by live video link from Afghanistan — since the Article 32 hearing began last week. Prosecutors are expected to wrap up their case Thursday, a day after witnesses detailed the end of the 10-minute rampage — and how it could have been far worse.

"I heard several shots, echoes of shots," recalled Sgt. Mark Todd, one of the first two Fort Hood police officers who responded. "He fired at me and I fired at him."

Todd wounded Hasan, leaving him lying on the grass, as the two exchanged gunfire after Hasan wounded Officer Kimberly Munley during their earlier shootout, according to testimony. After Hasan was down, Todd kicked away his semiautomatic gun and put him in handcuffs. Todd, who was not injured, said he emptied the gunman's pockets and found a second weapon — a revolver — and clips of ammunition.

Other witnesses Wednesday answered, for the first time, several lingering questions about the shootings.

Investigators testified that Hasan had 177 unfired rounds either in his weapons or in several extra magazines, some of the clips extended versions to hold up to 30 bullets. All the slugs recovered from the dead and wounded came from a semiautomatic weapon, according to Kelly Jameson, an Army investigator.

Jameson said 146 shell casings were found inside the building where witnesses have said the gunman, wearing an Army combat uniform, shouted "Allahu Akbar!" — "God is great!" in Arabic — then opened fired in a crowded waiting area.

He kept firing rapidly, pausing only to reload, and shot people as they hid under tables or curled up in chairs — even shooting soldiers after they fled outside, where investigators found another 68 shell casings.

Army investigator Duane Mitchell testified that two laser sights were affixed to the gun used in the shooting. The green one is used during daylight, and the red one helps in darker conditions, he testified. Authorities found receipts from Nov. 2 and Nov. 3 in Hasan's car for watch batteries, the same kind used to power the sights, Mitchell said.

Prosecutors submitted photos of the guns, ammunition, lasers — and even some taken by a bystander that day apparently showing an armed Hasan walking outside the building — but did not display them in the courtroom.

Witnesses have given differing accounts of the laser sights on the shooter's gun, and of the witnesses testifying at the hearing who saw a weapon, only one soldier said he saw two guns.

Maj. Steven Richter, manager of the entire processing center complex who had been ducking behind parked cars, said that after Hasan was shot, he tore open his shirt and "put my index finger in hole in his chest to stop the blood."

He recalled telling Todd, the police officer: "This is one of us."

The wounds left Hasan paralyzed. He's been attending the hearing in a wheelchair.

Hasan remains jailed. The military justice system does not have bail.

Pohl, the investigating officer in the case, will at some point after the hearing recommend whether Hasan should go to trial, though the decision will ultimately be made by Fort Hood's commanding general.

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