FORT HOOD, Texas — The Army psychiatrist on trial for the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood told mental health experts shortly after the attack that he "would still be a martyr" if convicted and executed by the government, according to newly released documents.
The remarks by Maj. Nidal Hasan were published Tuesday by the New York Times, as military lawyers ordered to help Hasan insist that he wants jurors to sentence him to death. Hasan is representing himself during the trial, which continued Tuesday at the Texas military base with FBI agents testifying about a gruesome, bullet-riddled crime scene.
Hasan told a panel of mental health experts that he wished he had been killed in the attack because it would have meant God had chosen him for martyrdom, according to documents given to the newspaper by Hasan's former lead attorney, John Galligan.
Hasan, an American-born Muslim, was left paralyzed from the waist down after Fort Hood police officers ended the rampage by shooting him in the back.
"I'm paraplegic and could be in jail for the rest of my life," Hasan told the panel, according to the documents. "However, if I died by lethal injection, I would still be a martyr."
The documents were part of a report that concluded Hasan was fit to stand trial. Galligan, who now serves as Hasan's civil attorney after his client dismissed him from the criminal case two years ago, did not return phone messages from The Associated Press
Hasan, 42, has sat mostly silent during the trial, enabling prosecutors to zip through more than 60 witnesses in only four days. Those witnesses – many of them soldiers injured in the attack – described a bloody, chaotic scene and identified Hasan as the shooter.
But the pace slowed Tuesday as prosecutors shifted to forensic evidence, with FBI agents describing what they found at the medical building where the shootings occurred.
"When I walked in there, it was probably the worst scene I had ever seen," said Brett Mills, an FBI firearms expert with 23 years on the job.
He eventually found more than 270 bullet holes and bullet impacts. "You had a lot of blood left on the floor," he told jurors.
FBI Special Agent Susan Martin testified that she and other agents found so much evidence, including 146 shell casings and six magazines, that they ran out of numeric markers and had to use sticky notes.
"There were several bodies (in one area)," Martin testified. "There was medical equipment all over the floor. It was a pretty gruesome scene."
One juror wrote a note asking about security for the shooting scene. Kelley Jameson, the military police lead agent for the shooting, responded that it has been fenced with razor wire, locked and covered, and has been secure since the attack.
Jameson's testimony also suggested a specific reason for the date of the Nov. 5, 2009, attack: Hasan's soon-to-deploy units were due at the crowded building that day.
The jury, made of up military officers, also was shown a video taken during the initial walkthrough of the building and some crime scene photos. The photos were not displayed for the entire courtroom, which included journalists and victims' relatives in the gallery.
The judge, Col. Tara Osborn, also said she was not allowing prosecutors to show anyone the most graphic photos "that focus unnecessarily on the deceased."
Hasan, once again, asked no questions and raised no objections Tuesday. He was able to see the photos and the video, but he appeared to have no visible reaction.
The military attorneys who have been ordered to help Hasan insist that he isn't mounting a defense to ensure himself a death sentence. The standby lawyers have said such a strategy is "repugnant," and they unsuccessfully asked Osborn to either let them take over Hasan's defense or minimize their advisory roles.
Hasan has called those accusations a "twist of the facts," but he has allowed the attorneys to pursue an appeal of the judge's refusal at the Army Court of Criminal Appeals.
The martyrdom statements he made in 2010, a year after the attack, were contained in a 49-page report of a military panel known as a sanity board, according to the New York Times. That board concluded Hasan was fit to stand trial.
Galligan told the newspaper that Army prosecutors were given a summary of the report but had not seen the newly released pages. Galligan has previously released other documents at Hasan's request to Fox News.
Hasan told the panel he denied having remorse. He justified his actions by saying that the soldiers he killed were "going against the Islamic Empire," according to the Times.
"I don't think what I did was wrong because it was for the greater cause of helping my Muslim brothers," Hasan told the panel.