Hasan Declines to Present Defense During Sentencing
Update, 2:30 PM: When given the opportunity to speak on his own behalf today, Hasan simply said "the defense rests." The jury was dismissed, and will likely return tomorrow morning for closing arguments for sentencing.
Earlier: Emotional testimony from survivors and family members of victims of the Fort Hood shooting ended today in the military trial of Army Major NidalHasan, now in its sentencing phase.
The prosecution -- which is seeking the death penalty -- had called 19 witnesses in all. They told the jury about the long hours of dread as they waited by the phone on the day of the shooting and the mental and physical toll the mass shooting took on them and their families.
Hasan had earlier told the judge that he wished to wait a day after the testimony of survivors and families to speak during the sentencing, but surprised the court this morning when he said he was ready to speak today. He said he does not plan to present any evidence or call any witnesses.
One survivor of the shootings to testify today was Lt. Col. Randy Royer, who worked making tires at Michelin Tire. He was a National Guardsman trying to get back into active duty with the Army when he was hit by two gunshots fired by Hasan, badly damaging his arm and leg. He lifted both arms up at the trial to demonstrate to the jury how his left arm can no longer turn over and his wrist lacks full movement. This meant he could no longer work making tires (though the company found him another job, for which he's grateful, he testified). But he could not advance to active duty in the Army. He walks with a cane and required assistance to get to the stand today.
“I have mental issues," Royer testified. "I take anxiety medication. And I take medicine to help me sleep at night.”
To get that medicine, Royer goes to the pharmacy, which he said is one of the worst times for him now. "They have all the chairs lined up," he said. "When I walk in there I don't do too well. It reminds me of November 5th." Royer was in the Soldier Readiness Processing Center the day of the shooting, where service members get medical checkups and file paperwork in preparation for deployment.
Jerri Krueger, the mother of Sgt. Amy S. Krueger, said her daughter had decided to enlist when she saw the Twin Towers falling on television during the 9/11 attacks.
“'I’m going in. I’m joining the Army, Mom,'” Jerri Krueger said her daughter told her that day. She replied that her daughter certainly couldn't take on Osama bin Laden by herself.
"Just watch me," she told her mother.
Sgt. Krueger was one of 13 killed by Hasan on Nov. 5, 2009. He was found guilty on all counts Friday.
“When a parent loses a child, it creates an irreplaceable void," Krueger's mother said while facing the jury. "It’s like a part of you is missing, I live with that every day. Amy was a wonderful child."
Common narratives ran through the stories of the families and victims: hours of dread that day as they waited for news; and a struggle to adjust to the loss and damage in the aftermath of the shootings, especially depression.
Philip Warman, the husband of Lt. Col. Juanita L. Warman, said that losing his wife "was like I had something ripped out of me. And I started drinking. And I pretty much drank until the following June."
Warman put himself into rehab then, and has been sober since. He told the jury he takes his AA chips to his wife's grave at Arlington Cemetery, where he pushes them into the ground.
After Hasan testifies, the jury is likely to begin deliberating on a sentence. If Hasan is sentenced to death, an automatic appeals process would begin, which could take years.