New charges are brought in Fort Hood shootings

By Angela K. Brown
Associated Press / December 3, 2009

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FORT WORTH, Texas - A US Army psychiatrist who may face the death penalty after the mass shooting at Fort Hood was charged yesterday with 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder relating to the scores of soldiers and two civilian police officers injured in the attack, military officials said.

Major Nidal Hasan has already been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder after the Nov. 5 shooting in a building at the Texas Army post where soldiers must go before being deployed.

Witnesses said he jumped on a desk and shouted, “Allahu akbar,’’ Arabic for “God is great.’’ Army officials said he was armed with two pistols, one a semiautomatic capable of firing up to 20 rounds without reloading.

The additional charges were brought less than 24 hours after Hasan’s civilian attorney was notified that the Army plans to evaluate Hasan to test his competency to stand trial, as well as his mental state at the time of the shooting.

John Galligan, Hasan’s attorney, told the Associated Press yesterday that Army officials had not returned his calls, so he did not know when or where the “mental responsibility’’ exam would take place. Galligan said he had filed an objection to the evaluation, pointing out that Hasan was still in intensive care at a San Antonio military hospital recovering from gunshot wounds that left him paralyzed.

The results of the mental evaluation could prevent Hasan from being sent to death row or even being tried, although that is unlikely, specialists say.

The evaluation usually takes several days and involves psychological testing and interviews by the board, said Richard Stevens, a lawyer who specializes in defending military cases.