|Television sketch artist puts finishing touches on depiction|
Ft. Hood – FBI Special Agent Susan Martin is assigned to the bureau's Austin office, where she specializes in counterintelligence.
But when someone twists off and leaves their tracks all over a federal crime scene, she becomes an Evidence Recovery Technician, an expert at proving up the chain of custody of items that will be introduced as evidence, and a specialist at documenting exactly how, where and when those items were seized.
She spent several hours testifying today, Tuesday, August 13, about the meticulous nature of the FBI's methods. She and her colleagues learned of the massacre at the Soldier Readiness Center on Nov. 5, 2009, a little bit after lunch.
It wasn't until two days later that she actually began to seize the evidence, put it in bags, diagram where it was found, assign it a number – all the things it will take to withstand the cross examination of a talented defense attorney after the prosecution offers it as evidence.
Remember the dream team? Johnny Cochran, F. Lee Bailey, that rat pack who got O.J. Simpson acquitted? They had lots of questions about the vials of blood, where they came from – exactly where they came from. Who processed the swatch? Who gave it to the laboratory? In whose custody...Their cross examination about evidence and the time line costructed by the Los Angeles Police consumed months of a Superior Court's time.
So far, Major Abu Nidal Malik Hasan has offered no objections to any piece of evidence being placed in the record, and there is a lot of it – 146 empty shell casings that came from his gun, 6 high capacity magazines, bullet fragments - and the list goes on.
Does he have any questions regarding this batch of evidence, or the qualifications of the expert who offered it?
He sat there and said that more than one hundred times during the day.
When it came time to hear the testimony of a forensic pathologist, he asked no questions about the man's qualifications, only glanced at the exhibits as they were admitted into evidence, and had no objections to an end to testimony, when it came.
Consider the findings of how Lt. Col. Juanita Warman met her maker. According to Dr. Robert Stabley, a board certified forensic pathologist who has performed more than 700 autopsies, in 200 of which gun shot wounds were found to be the cause of death, she died not instantaneously, but as those who tried to comfort her remembered, in a manner the doctor described as “rapidly fatal,” which means within 10 minutes.
She told her would-be rescuers that she would miss her family, to tell them that she loved them, but to go to work on someone who could make it. She knew there was no way she could live through her injuries.
Dr. Stabley identified 3 entrance wounds arrayed down the path of her spine, two of them superficial. Those two only caused bruising and injury to the subcutaneous tissue.
The third pierced the skin and soft tissue, injured the right kidney, plowed through the transverse colon and spilled fecal material into the abdominal cavity, then ripped through the mesentary membrane, a kind of highly vascular “basket” that holds the small and large bowel system together, and pierced her stomach.
From there, it shattered the right lobe of her kidney and came to rest against the wall of her chest. At that point, the human being known as Juanita Warman was no more. Her remains became a number – 796 – because that was the number of autopsies performed at the Air Force base where Dr. Stabley worked at that time.
When he had finished his task, he removed bullets and bullet fragments from four gunshot wounds, all of which are stored in little paper sacks printed with slick red ink, resembling the kind in which gourmet coffee grind is packaged.
When the Army prosecutor brought them to the defense table for Major Hasan to examine, he merely waved him away while his chief standby counsel, Lt. Col. Kim Poppe, sat and stared at him with bemused fascination.
Col. Poppe and two associates have been relegated to the role of standby counsel, one of them suffering the humiliation of being forced to sit in the spectator section of the courtroom.
They have prepared an appeal of the judge's ruling that they may not be released from their duty. They have twice argued the point in open court, expressing their outrage that they consider it an immoral and unethical pursuit for professional Army officers and licensed attorneys.
Col. Poppe told the judge he believes Maj. Hasan is doing everything he can to remove all impediment to a verdict of guilty and a punishment of death.
Six more pathologists will be proven up as expert witnesses in the morning, Wednesday, August 14, starting at 9:30 a.m. To testify how 11 other human beings and a fetal baby gave up the ghost as a result of homicide – a Latin term for death at the hands of another.