FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — The soldier on trial for the deadly 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood refused to put up a fight on Wednesday, resting his case without calling a single witness or testifying in his own defense.
Maj. Nidal Hasan could face the death penalty if convicted for the attack that killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 others at the Texas military base. But when given the chance to rebut prosecutors' lengthy case — which included nearly 90 witnesses and hundreds of pieces of evidence — the Army psychiatrist declined.
About five minutes after court began Wednesday, a day after prosecutors rested their case, the judge asked Hasan how he wanted to proceed. He answered: "The defense rests."
The judge, Col. Tara Osborn, then asked Hasan: "You have the absolute right to remain silent. You do not have to say anything. You have the right to testify if you choose. Understand?"
Hasan said he did. When the judge asked if this was his personal decision, he answered: "It is."
Osborn then adjourned the trial until Thursday to give prosecutors time to prepare closing arguments, and jurors were led out of the courtroom.
Hasan's move wasn't completely unexpected, considering he has made no attempt since his trial began two weeks ago to prove his innocence. He has sat mostly in silence, raising few objections and questioning only three prosecution witnesses.
Instead, he appears to be making his case through leaks to the media — even though jurors are barred from reading media reports about the case.
Taken together, the leaks reveal that Hasan, an American-born Muslim, justifying the shooting as a necessary killing of American soldiers to protect Muslim insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Hasan allowed his civil attorney to give The New York Times a report showing that he told military mental health workers after the attack that he could "still be a martyr" if convicted and executed by the government. He also sent a personal letter sent to the local newspaper.
Most recently, two emails he released to the Times show that Hasan asked his Army supervisors how to handle three cases that disturbed him. One involved a soldier who reported to him that U.S. troops had poured 50 gallons of fuel into the Iraqi water supply as revenge.
"I think I need a lot of reassurance for the first few times I come across these," Hasan wrote in an email on Nov. 2, 2009 — three days before the shooting.
Hasan's email signature included a quote from the Quran: "All praises and thanks go to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds."
On the first day of the trial, Hasan had tried to cross-examine a former supervisor about the fuel-dumping allegations, but Osborn quickly silenced him. She ruled the line of questioning out of bounds and not relevant to the case. The judge also barred Hasan from arguing during trial that the killings were in defense of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.