In yet another pre-trial hearing at Fort Hood in the case of U.S. vs. Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, a ruling favorable to the prosecution has further highlighted the ludicrous aspect of the process.
In the latest hearing, judge (Col.) Tara Osborn, ruled against Hasan’s objection to the admission of testimony by Spec. Jonathan Sims. A ruling which we applaud.
On the day of the massacre, Sims was in a medical building at Fort Hood, sitting next to 21-year-old Pvt. Francheska Velez, recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq. According to Sims, Velez had just told him that she was pregnant and was preparing to go home, when Hasan began his wild shooting rampage, killing Velez and her unborn child. “The female soldier that was sitting next to me,” said Sims, “was in the fetal position. She was screaming ‘My baby! My baby!’”
That heartbreaking statement was made during an Article 32 hearing (the military version of a Grand Jury) on October 18th, 2010—yes, 2010 -Just one of many damning statements in a hearing that led to Nidal being held for trial on 13 counts of pre-meditated murder and 32 counts of attempted pre-meditated murder. Here we are more than more than 2 ½ years since that statement, and more than 3 ½ years since Hasan’s murderous rampage, and a jury has yet to be chosen; a starting date for the trial itself is still up in the air, and still more pre-trial hearings are scheduled.
Most observers of the military legal system agree with the concept that, “In general, accused must be brought to trial within 120 days of the preferring of charges or the imposition of restraint, whichever date is earliest.”
Another pre-trial hearing is scheduled for July 2 at which time Hasan has been instructed to enter his plea. Inasmuch as his, “in defense of others,” defense has been rejected, and the military justice code does not accept guilty pleas in a capital case, he appears to have little alternative other than to plead, or accept a plea of Not Guilty.
Jury selection is scheduled to begin on July 9th with Hasan participating in the voir dire, questioning prospective panelists. To that end, Hasan has requested that Dr. Jeffery Frederick, a jury panel selection expert be present beside him as he questions panel members.
The latest developments in the Ft. Hood case came on the same day that a federal grand jury returned a 30-count indictment against accused Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The US attorney’s office says that 17 of the charges could result in life in prison or the death penalty.
The indictment claims that Tsarnaev left a confession in the boat where he was arrested stating that, “The U.S. Government is killing our innocent civilians…I can’t stand to see such evil go unpunished…We Muslims are one body, you hurt one you hurt us all.”
Arraignment will take place on July 10th.
The American public is in no mood to witness a repetition of the maddening pace of the Ft. Hood case, so we fervently hope that the prosecution of the Boston case will continue to move swiftly.
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Ed Silverman is a distinguished broadcast journalist and documentarian, having received numerous major awards for news and documentaries. His first e-book, “Brief Encounters with the Famous, the Near Famous and the Not So Famous,” is listed for sale on this website and available through other major retailers of e-books for $4.99.
During his career, Ed found himself in the midst of some of America’s most historic events. He served as a TV network news correspondent, commentator and analyst, and was Assistant Director of News Operations for ABC TV network and Director of News and Public Affairs for WABC-TV, New York.
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