The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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State, national news

August 6, 2013

Fort Hood trial brings together attacker, victims

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — After years of delays, the trial of the man who carried out the Fort Hood shooting seems likely to unfold as a faceoff between the gunman and his victims.

Starting Tuesday, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan will represent himself at a court-martial charging him with murder and attempted murder for the 2009 attack that left 13 people dead. Over the next several weeks, he is expected to deliver an opening statement, to question witnesses and possibly present his own evidence.

On the witness stand will be many of the more than 30 people who were wounded, plus dozens of others who were inside the post's Soldier Readiness Processing Center, where service members went to prepare for deployment. They saw Hasan shout "Allahu Akbar!" — Arabic for "God is great!" — and open fire on unarmed fellow soldiers.

Hasan has never denied carrying out the attack, and the facts of the case are mostly settled. But questions abound about how the trial will play out. How will Hasan question his victims? How will victims respond? How will his health hold up?

The defendant, who was shot in the back by officers responding to the attack, is now paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair. He requires 15- to 20-minute stretching breaks about every four hours, and has to lift himself off his wheelchair for about a minute every half hour to avoid developing sores.

Staff Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford, who was wounded, is expected to testify. He said he looked forward to seeing Hasan, in a way.

"I'm not going to dread anything. That's a sign of fear," Lunsford said. "That man strikes no fear in my heart. He strikes no fear in my family. What he did to me was bad. But the biggest mistake that he made was I survived. So he will see me again."

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