Fifteen witnesses took the stand Thursday in the court martial of accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan, but the day kicked off with a heated argument between the judge and Hasan’s legal team.
Col. Tara Osborn denied the legal team’s request to be removed from the trial, a request made Wednesday after the attorneys said they believed Hasan, representing himself, intended to lose the trial as a way to receive the death penalty.
Lt. Col. Kris Poppe, the leader of Hasan’s stand-by legal tea, vehemently argued with the judge on that point, saying their ethical duties are being compromised, but Judge Osborn reminded him that they were ordered to assist Hasan in his defense.
The witnesses who took the stand throughout the rest of the day took turns describing the horrific scene of the Nov. 5, 2009 shooting on post. All recalled the day as very busy with soldiers in uniform preparing for deployment.
Several witnesses said day was broken up when they heard someone yell followed by a constant sound of gunfire.
Some of the most emotional testimony came from SFC Maria Guerra, a non-commissioned officer working in Soldier Readiness Processing. She saw Hasan clearly holding his pistols and firing into a crowded room. She said Hasan quickly reloaded his pistols when they emptied and kept firing.
Guerra admitted she heard a woman yelling "Please no, my baby, my baby," followed by a gunshot, and then didn't hear the voice anymore. The cries came from Francheska Velez, who was pregnant and was killed that day.
Guerra also remembers walking through the Soldier Readiness Processing site trying to help as many of the injured soldiers as possible. Realizing she couldn't help everyone, Guerra marked all the dead soldiers with a black “D” and the time of death.
Six survivors testified they were shot by Hasan with two testifying they were shot five times.
The prosecution asked many of their witnesses if they could identify the shooter from that day, and 12 of the 15 witnesses pointed directly to the bearded defendant.
Like Wednesday, Hasan had no objections to any of the prosecution's evidence and had no questions for any of the witnesses.
Court will be back in session on Friday 9 a.m. for another day of witness testimony.