Thursday, June 27, 2013

Hasan tried to block testimony about shooting, killing pregnant woman who begged him to spare her child's life

Victim, 21, begged, “My baby, my baby!”

Ft. Hood - Prosecutors and Major Abu Nidal Malik Hasan, who is defending himself in a general court martial for capital murder and attempted capital murder of multiple victims, agreed on most items of evidence to be presented during examination of prospective jurors and opening statements - except one.

Private First Class Francheska Velez, a 21-year-old member of the 15th Combat Support Battalion from Chicago, pleaded that he spare her life because she was pregnant.

As the former Army psychiatrist took aim at her with a 5.7 x 27 mm FN Herstal semiautomatic pistol during a shooting rampage that left 13 persons dead and 32 wounded on Nov. 5, 2009, Private Velez screamed, “My baby, my baby!”

The Major shot her anyway, ending her life and the life of her unborn child. She had reported to the Soldier Readiness Center that day to make ready for deployment overseas.

Private Velez is one of the few - or perhaps the only - American soldier ever to be cut down by a combatant while pregnant.

Major Hasan had entered a motion in limine to block prosecutors from mentioning that fact to prospective jurors during their questioning of fellow Army officers during voir dire proceedings, and during their opening statements.

“The prejudice outweighs the probative value,” he told Col. Tara Osborn, the military judge who is detailed to hear his case.

After a long pause, she spoke firmly and with a high degree of resolution.

“I believe it is probative. It is part of the res gestae,” the judge replied. “The motion in limine is denied.”

Res gestae is a Latin legal phrase originated during the 17th century. It is defined as “The acts, circumstances, and statements that are incidental to the principal fact of a lititgated matter and are admissible in evidence in view of their relevant association with that fact.”

Judge Osborn ruled that prosecutors may not refer to the Mullah Anwar Awlaki as an addressee of e-mails Major Hasan sent on his laptop, though they may present evidence gleaned from the instrument.

The Mullah and he discussed the need for religious jihad in retaliation for acts of the American military in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Major offered no objection to the admissibility of the e-mails or of other evidence contained on his laptop.

He did object to the possibility that van drivers transporting the prospective jurors to the courthouse might discuss the case with them.

Col. Osborn assured him that all drivers and other servants of the Court will be admonished not to discuss the case with prospective jurors, and that if anyone attempts to do so, she will have previously instructed them to report that fact to her immediately.

She also asked Army prosecutors to look into the possiblity of redacting redundant images of the bodies of the deceased victims in video they intend to present to prospective jurors and in their opening statements.

Major Hasan indicated he had no objection to the video images.

The Court will reconvene next Tuesday, Julty 2, to review witness lists and other materials prior to the beginning of jury selection on July 9 and the case in chief of the trial on August 6.

At the July 2 court appearance, Major Hasan will enter a plea, unless he chooses to forego the choice between guilty or not guilty.

"If you choose to not enter a plea, I will enter a plea of not guilty for you," Judge Osborn told him as she adjourned the court session for the day.

No comments:

Post a Comment