The trial began on Tuesday in the court-martial of the man accused of killing 13 soldiers and wounding 32 others in a shooting rampage nearly four years ago at Texas’ Fort Hood military base.
“The evidence will clearly show that I am the shooter,” said Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who is representing himself, in his opening remarks, reported NBC News. However, he said, “The evidence presented during the trial will only show one side.”
Even though he admitted to the Nov. 5, 2009, attack, Hasan was barred from entering a guilty plea because prosecutors chose to pursue the death penalty. The 42-year-old is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder. Should he be found guilty by the entire panel of 13 senior Army officers, Hasan faces lethal injection.
Survivors and family members of the victims have expressed frustration, said Scott Friedman, NBC 5 investigative reporter.
“They first of all feel like this has just taken entirely too long to bring the case to trial,” said Friedman on NewsNation Tuesday. “They feel like the shooter has been given more accommodations and considerations than the victims have in some cases.”
The trial was supposed to begin more than a year and a half ago, but was repeatedly delayed. In one instance, the judge postponed pre-trial motions because Hasan showed up in court with a beard in clear violation of Army rules, which require all men to be clean shaven while on duty.
Additionally, said Friedman, victims feel they have been unfairly denied Purple Hearts because the Pentagon classifies the shooting as “workplace violence” and not as an act of terror. Furthermore, Hasan continues to be supported by the U.S. Army and American taxpayers, as he’s transported nearly every day from jail to Fort Hood, where he works on his legal defense.
The aftermath of the shooting, however, should be of less concern than what preceded it, said msnbc military analyst and Medal of Honor recipient Col. Jack Jacobs.
“Don’t forget that Maj. Hasan was identified by his supervisor as being a risk,” said Jacobs on NewsNation Tuesday. “And yet they continued to let him carry on, and then shipped him to Fort Hood, where this happened. That’s what we should be most concerned about.”