Hospital employee recounts Hasan threat as prosecution comes to a close
In this sketch by courtroom artist Brigitte Woolsey, prosecutor Maj. Larry Downend reads a statement by Sgt. Mark Todd to the panel of military officers acting as a jury in the case against Maj. Nidal Hasan. Todd is reportedly unable to speak due to a medical condition.
FORT HOOD, Texas — The government rested its case against Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan on Tuesday, and the judge recessed until Wednesday morning – when Hasan has a chance to testify in his own defense.
Hasan, charged in the shooting deaths of 13 people and wounding of 32 others, is representing himself in the court-martial. It’s not clear if he will call any witnesses or interview himself; on Tuesday morning he told the judge that he did not plan to call Dr. Lewis Rambo, an expert on religious conversion whom Hasan had included on a witness list he submitted Friday.
The last prosecution witness Tuesday told the panel of military officers acting as a jury in the case that Hasan was frustrated about having to deploy to Afghanistan, and told a medical resident, “They will pay.”
Hasan had the conversation with Dr. Tonya Kozminski the weekend of Oct. 17, 2009, she said. A few days later, he sent an email to his supervisors expressing concern about the action of a soldier he was evaluating as a military psychiatrist, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
Hasan sent a second, similar email two days before the shooting that left 13 people dead and 32 more injured at a predeployment clinic.
Hasan has admitted he was the shooter, and said he did it to protect Taliban leaders from soldiers who were about to deploy to Afghanistan. Hasan was also scheduled to deploy with some of the soldiers who were at the clinic that day.
In the emails released to the Times by Hasan’s civilian lawyer, Hasan expressed concern about a soldier who reported to him that American troops had poured 50 gallons of fuel into the Iraqi water supply as revenge; a case in which a soldier told him about a mercy killing of a severely injured insurgent by medics; and a soldier who spoke of killing an Iraqi woman because he was following orders to shoot anything that approached a specific site.
The Army never fully investigated his concerns. He has admitted that he opened fire in the clinic on Nov. 5, 2009, as part of a jihad to protect Taliban leaders from troops headed to Afghanistan.
“I think I need a lot of reassurance for the first few times I come across these,” Hasan wrote on Nov. 2, 2009, referencing the three cases that worried him. Below his e-mail signature, he included a quote from the Quran: “All praises and thanks go to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of all the worlds.”
The emails were among several missed opportunities for the Army to investigate Hasan’s troubled state of mind and bizarre behavior, the Times noted.
Still, Judge Col. Tara Osborn on Monday ruled that the emails, Hasan’s requests for conscientious objector status, academic presentations on suicide bombers, a defense of Osama bin Laden, correspondence between Hasan and a radical Muslim cleric, and information about a soldier who was convicted of killing members of his unit in Kuwait cannot be introduced as evidence in the court-martial. She said most of that evidence was too removed in time, open to multiple interpretations and might unfairly prejudice in the eyes of jury.
Also Tuesday, prosecutor Maj. Larry Downend read prior testimony from former Fort Hood police Sgt. Mark Todd, one of the two police officers to respond to calls of shots fired at the medical soldier readiness processing center that day.
Todd is unable to speak due to an unrelated medical condition, prosecutors said.
In his testimony from a 2010 pre-trial hearing, Todd said that he shot five rounds at Hasan, saw him wince “a couple of times,” and then slide to the ground. Todd then said he removed magazines and another gun from Hasan’s cargo pockets and tried to get the weapons and magazines as far as possible from him, “then I started checking his vitals, you know, trying to save his life.”
Hasan was paralyzed in the shooting and now uses a wheelchair.