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Fort Hood Suspect Charged With 13 Counts of Murder

November 12, 2009 at 12:00 AM EDT
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Army Maj. Nidal M. Hasan has been charged with premeditated murder in last week's shooting at Fort Hood. Jeffrey Brown talks to a reporter for an update.

CHRIS GREY, director of public affairs and marketing, Army Criminal Investigation Command: Today, I have confirmed that U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a 39-year-old psychiatrist assigned to Darnall Medical Center here at Fort Hood, has been charged with 13 specifications of premeditated murder under Article 118 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

These are initial charges. And additional charges may be preferred in the future, subject to the ongoing criminal investigation.

JIM LEHRER: Jeffrey Brown has more on the story.

JEFFREY BROWN: And we get that from Wade Goodwyn, who has been covering the story for National Public Radio. He joins us from Fort Hood.

Well, Wade, were there any surprises in either the timing or the charges themselves?

WADE GOODWYN, National Public Radio: No, no surprises.

I mean, last Thursday, Major Hasan walked — allegedly walked into the Soldier Readiness Center and opened fire, killing 12 soldiers and ending a civilian. And, today, the government hit back, 13 counts of premeditated murder.

The one point the government investigator spokesman wanted to make was that there was no reason for Major Hasan to be at the Soldier Readiness Center that day. He had no orders to be there, that he came there for the sole purpose of opening fire and murdering people. And that allows them to charge him with premeditated murder, which brings the severest penalties.

JEFFREY BROWN: Now, the spokesman said that additional charges might be filed. Would there any clues as to what those might include?

WADE GOODWYN: No. The FBI and the Army are two organizations that like to play things very close to the vest, so, we have no idea what other charges might — there might be.

But, certainly, 13 counts of premeditated murder is a lot already.

JEFFREY BROWN: And you said the severest penalty. That means the possibility of the death penalty in this case.

WADE GOODWYN: Yes, that’s right.

The military courts are a little different. The judge will be military. The prosecutor will be military. And the 12 jurors are called court-martial members. They will be officers. And he will either have a court-appointed attorney that will be military or hire his own civilian attorney.

And it doesn’t have to be all 12 members voting him guilty. Two-thirds to convict is enough. And it does have to be unanimous to give him the death penalty.

JEFFREY BROWN: Now, Major Hasan himself, I understand, was told about the charges in the hospital room?

WADE GOODWYN: That’s right. One of his superior officers delivered the charges to him. And he was served right there in the hospital.

JEFFREY BROWN: And his lawyer — his family, I guess, has appointed a lawyer — was not present, and, at least what I read, according to the AP, was not happy about it.

WADE GOODWYN: Not happy. I think he feels he’s being a little disrespected by the government. He said nothing had been delivered to him. And he expressed concern already, at this early date, about his client being able to get a fair trial.

JEFFREY BROWN: Yes, explain that. The lawyer is John Galligan. He said that he doesn’t think that a — a trial, a fair trial in Fort Hood is possible.

Do you know what the possibilities are in terms of transfers in a case like this, under the military justice?

WADE GOODWYN: Well, I would think that would be the first thing that Galligan will ask for, is a change of venue. And, if I were the government, I wouldn’t oppose it, given the kinds of evidence they may be able to bring to bear.

JEFFREY BROWN: The military spokesman also today said that investigators continue to believe that this was the lone gunman.

But do you — were there — was there anything new in terms of the focus of the investigation at this point?

WADE GOODWYN: No. I mean, they seem very confident that this was the act of one man. And they did not give any hint that there might be other co-conspirators.

JEFFREY BROWN: So, what does happen next, in terms of the legal case here — the proceedings, rather?

New details about Hasan's capture

Wade Goodwyn
National Public Radio
If this story is true, Sergeant Todd, I would think, deserves the same sort of respect and recognition that Sergeant Munley has already enjoyed.

WADE GOODWYN: Well, I mean, there was the -- I'm not exactly sure what the next move will be by -- by the government.

I mean, there was one interesting development in the investigation. "The New York Times" talked to Sergeant Mark Todd, who was one of the officers who responded to the Soldier Readiness Center. And he told a completely new story about what happened that day.

He said that he was the one who shot Major Hasan, that, when they arrived at the Readiness Center, they saw him outside, allegedly chasing soldiers with his gun. They confronted him and told him to drop his weapon. He fired at them.

They split up, went in two directions. And she, Sergeant Munley, Kimberly Munley, allegedly, apparently came around the corner, stumbled in to Major Hasan. He shot her and began to reload his weapon.

And, at that point, Sergeant Todd came upon him, shot him, took him down. And, once he had dropped his weapon and was laying on his back, ran over and secured him. And Sergeant Todd's account has been corroborated by an eyewitness.

JEFFREY BROWN: So, a different story from what we all heard certainly the first couple of days.

WADE GOODWYN: I mean -- and if this story is true, Sergeant Todd, I would think, deserves the same sort of respect and recognition that Sergeant Munley has already enjoyed.

JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Wade Goodwyn of NPR at Fort Hood, thanks so much.

WADE GOODWYN: It's my pleasure.