Fort Hood Suspect Charged With 13 Counts Of Murder

Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan, who allegedly killed 13 people last week at Fort Hood, now faces charges for the murders. NPR's Wade Goodwyn talks to Michele Norris about today's developments.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR news. Im Melissa Block.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

And Im Michele Norris.

The Army psychiatrist, who allegedly killed 13 people last week at Fort Hood, now faces charges for the murders.

Mr. CHRISTOPHER GRAY (Spokesman, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command): Today, Ive 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.

NORRIS: Thats Christopher Gray, spokesman for the Armys Criminal Investigative Division. NPRs Wade Goodwyn was at that briefing today at Fort Hood, and he joins us now from Killeen, Texas, just off post. Wade, we just heard there, 13 specifications of premeditated murder. Are these the charges that were expected?

WADE GOODWYN: Yes. I mean, its no surprise - 12 soldiers and one civilian killed adds up to 13 counts of premeditated murder. The Army, you know, said that Major Hasan had no scheduled appointments that day at the Soldier Readiness Medical Center, thats where the shooting took place. He didnt have any orders to be there. And what the Army is kind of subliminally communicating in that is its belief that Major Hasan came to the Readiness Center for no other reason than to murder. And, therefore, the charges are premeditated murder and that carries the maximum possible penalty.

NORRIS: And maximum possible penalty are we to assume that that would that he would face the death penalty potentially?

GOODWYN: Yes. Theres a variety of offenses that will make one eligible for the death penalty and premeditated murder is one of them. But whats interesting is how infrequently the military executes its prisoners. There are several men on death row currently, but the last military prisoner to be executed was Private John Bennett. And that - he was hanged at Fort Leavenworth on April 13th, 1961. And there hasnt been a military prisoner executed since then.

NORRIS: Major Hasan does have legal counsel. What is his lawyer saying about these charges?

GOODWYN: I dont think Major Hasans lawyer, John Galligan, feels like hes being treated very respectfully by the government at this point. He spoke to us outside his office which is a few miles down the road from Fort Hood.

Mr. JOHN GALLIGAN (Defense Attorney): I think it should be apparent to you just looking at my face. This has not made me a happy man. I have nothing except notice that my client is in a hospital and no charge sheet. And against the backdrop of all of these events, I just continue to hope he has a fair trial.

GOODWYN: The fact that Galligan is already expressing his concern about his clients ability to get a fair trial just speaks to the volume of media coverage.

NORRIS: Wade, there is another intriguing development in the Fort Hood story today. It involves that post police officers who shot Major Hasan. Whats happening there?

GOODWYN: Well, it was a quite surprise. After the Army had given us the impression that Sergeant Kimberly Munley had engaged the gunman and, you know, quote taken him down, now we hear from Sergeant Mark Todd that he, in fact, was the person who shot Major Hasan four times outside the Readiness Center. An eyewitness has confirmed Sergeant Todds account. Heres what they said happen: They said that Sergeant Todd and Sergeant Munley arrived at the same moment. They were running up the hill toward the Readiness Center and they see the shooter outside. Hes chasing wounded soldiers trying to kill them. They shout at him to drop his weapon. He doesnt. He points his weapon and fires at them -missing. Then they take off in opposite directions. And eventually, Sergeant Munley rounds a corner and theres Major Hasan. He has the drop on her and he allegedly shoots her. She is down and its unclear whether or not she gets off a shot. The gunman begins to reload. Hes standing right over Munley, and thats when Todd comes upon him and the gunman is fumbling with his gun and Todd shoots him, firing repeatedly until Hasan is on his back and hes dropped his gun. And then Todd runs up and secures him.

NORRIS: And this its Todd who came forward with this story.

GOODWYN: Yes. I mean, you know, Major Todd has come forward with this and a eyewitness confirmed Major Todds account.

NORRIS: Wade, thanks so much.

GOODWYN: Its my pleasure.

NORRIS: Thats NPRs Wade Goodwyn in Killeen, Texas.

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