Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Emotions Run High as Jury Weighs Hasan's Fate

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Emotions Run High as Jury Weighs Hasan's Fate

Article excerpt

FORT HOOD, Texas -- A soldier left for dead after being shot in the head. A widow whose two sons won't have their father to take them fishing or teach them how to be gentlemen. A grieving father who includes himself and his unborn grandson in the death toll of the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood.

Survivors of the attack and relatives of those killed testified Monday during the final phase of Maj. Nidal Hasan's trial. Prosecutors hope that their emotional testimony -- from sobbing widows, distraught parents and paralyzed soldiers -- helps persuade jurors to impose a rare military death sentence on Maj. Hasan, who was convicted last week of killing 13 people and wounding more than 30 others at the Texas military base.

The sentencing phase also will be Maj. Hasan's last chance to tell jurors what he has told the military, judges and journalists for the last four years: that the killing of unarmed American soldiers preparing to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan was necessary to protect Muslim insurgents. But whether he plans to address jurors remains unclear.

Staff Sgt. Patrick Ziegler was among the first to testify, telling jurors how he was shot four times and underwent emergency surgery that removed about 20 percent of his brain. Doctors initially expected him to die or remain in a vegetative state. Sgt. Ziegler was hospitalized for about 11 months and had 10 surgeries. He is now paralyzed on his left side, unable to use his left hand, and blind spots in both eyes prevent him from driving.

The married father said he has trouble caring for his 10-month- old son "like a normal father would," and described his cognitive level as that of a 10th- or 11th-grader. He also said he has fought severe depression. "I'm a lot angrier and lot darker than I used to be," he said.

Shoua Her wiped away tears as she recalled how she and her husband, Pfc. Kham Xiong, talked about growing old together and having more children. Now, she said, their children know their slain father only through memories and stories. …

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