(Orange, Texas)

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August 22, 2013

Jury in Fort Hood rampage trial set to deliberate


FORT HOOD, Texas —

"There's not a shred of evidence to suggest the accused was acting under a heat of passion as he was committing the single largest mass murder on a U.S. military installation ever," said Col. Steve Henricks, one of the military's prosecutors.

What evidence the military has produced will be given to 13 high-ranking military officers during deliberations, which are expected to start Thursday following closing arguments.

"Passion seems to equate to a motive," Henricks told the trial judge Wednesday. "And I think we've presented several pieces of evidence that motive has been building for some time."

Hasan's long-awaited trial — it was supposed to begin this week a year ago, before Hasan's refusal to shave his beard over religious reasons set off more delays — is coming to an end far sooner than expected. The judge, Col. Tara Osborn, had braced jurors to serve at least a month.

But the unusual decision by Hasan, who is acting as his own attorney, to present no resistance to the government's case has drastically expedited the pace.

On Wednesday, he forfeited his turn in the trial to call even a single witnesses or present new evidence. He told Osborn he knew he was passing up the chance to take the witness stand himself, choosing instead to hurry the trial along.

"The defense rests," said Hasan, when Osborn told him to begin his case.

Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, only submitted one item as evidence during the trial: his last officer evaluation report from his supervisor at Fort Hood, Dr. Ben Phillips, who selected "Outstanding Officer, Must Promote" from three performance-rating options. The evaluation is dated Nov. 2, 2009 — three days before the attack.

Phillips was one of nearly 90 government witnesses to testify, but one of only three whom Hasan cross-examined. When Hasan asked him about the favorable review, Phillips suggested that was his default choice for all soldiers "unless I basically wanted to end their career."

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