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Prosecution Rests In Court Martial Of Maj. Nidal Hasan


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.


And I'm Melissa Block.

Prosecutors have rested their case in the trial of Major Nidal Hasan. He's the Army psychiatrist accused of murdering 13 people and wounding more than 30 in the 2009 shooting attack at Fort Hood in Texas. And while the case took nearly three years to get to trial, once the proceeding started, they've moved along very quickly. NPR's Wade Goodwyn spent the day in the courtroom at Fort Hood. He joins us now.

And, Wade, the idea was that the prosecution's case might take weeks, maybe months. But here were are, its 11 days into the trial, and now prosecutors have rested. So why don't you walk us through what they laid out in their case?

WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: Well, I'm not sure how much credit the prosecutors get even though it's their case we're talking about. This is mostly Major Hasan's doing. He decided that he wanted to represent himself. And though legal experts always advise against that, you have that right.

And you might remember that when it became clear that Hasan was going to represent himself, there was some anxiety about the fact that he was going to be given the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses that he's alleged to have shot. But there's been none of that. No belligerent cross-examinations, in fact, almost no cross-examination by Hasan at all. Time after time he said, no questions, your honor. And that's meant that 89 witnesses have testified in just 11 days. And that's got to be some sort of record for a major murder trial like this.

BLOCK: And why is it, Wade, that Nidal Hasan has not been, for the most part, cross-examining those witnesses? What's the strategy there, if there is one?

GOODWYN: I think it's because he doesn't want to. He's already conceded in the court that the evidence demonstrates he was the shooter. And in letters Hasan sent to the local Killeen newspaper that were published on Sunday this weekend, Hasan wrote that he switched sides. He's with al-Qaida and the Taliban. And so having attacked the enemy, you know, men and women who were once his colleagues, his fellow soldiers, he seems content.

He's demonstrated nothing but respect for the judge and the witnesses. There have been no attempts at political or religious diatribes like we witnessed with FLDS leader Warren Jeffs when he was on trial for having sex with minors. Major Hasan's main agenda now seems to be to move this trial along.

BLOCK: Well, what do we expect when Nidal Hasan starts his defense tomorrow?

GOODWYN: Well, that's the big question. Comments made by the judge this morning hinted at the possibility that Hasan might take the stand. Now, that would be a very strange spectacle because when you're representing yourself, you're not allowed to just take the stand and offer some impassioned speech in your own defense. You have to actually ask yourself questions and then answer them so that the prosecution has the opportunity to object to your question.

This morning, the judge explained that detail to the major, which makes me wonder if that's where we're in for tomorrow. Or he could simply rest without offering any defense at all, and that would be in keeping with his legal strategy so far. In his mind, he's taken the fast lane to martyrdom.

BLOCK: So not planning to call any witnesses as far as you know?

GOODWYN: We're not quite sure. Maybe one witness at most. But maybe just himself is the one witness. We can't really tell. But we'll know tomorrow.

BLOCK: OK. NPR's Wade Goodwyn covering the trial of Nidal Hasan in Killeen, Texas. Wade, thanks so much.

GOODWYN: It's my pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Wade Goodwyn is an NPR National Desk Correspondent covering Texas and the surrounding states.
As special correspondent and guest host of NPR's news programs, Melissa Block brings her signature combination of warmth and incisive reporting. Her work over the decades has earned her journalism's highest honors, and has made her one of NPR's most familiar and beloved voices.

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