The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

August 27, 2013

Widows of Fort Hood slain describe lost moments

(Continued)

"I miss him a lot," she added. "I miss his soft, gentle hands. How he holds me. He made me feel safe and secure. Now the other side of the bed is empty and cold. I feel dead but yet alive."

As she testified, one juror, a male officer, fought back tears.

Juan Velez, the father of Pvt. Francheska Velez, said his family hasn't come to grips with her death. The 21-year-old was pregnant when she was shot, and her cries of "My baby! My baby!" during the attack were described by several trial witnesses.

"That man did not just kill 13, he killed 15. He killed my grandson (Velez' unborn child) and myself," Velez said in Spanish. "It hurt me to the bottom of my soul."

Prosecutors have seven witnesses left to call. Testimony Monday afternoon was abruptly canceled after a closed-door meeting between the judge, Hasan and attorneys on both sides. Officials said the delay was related to logistics.

The sentencing phase also will be Hasan's last chance to tell jurors what he's spent the last four years telling the military, judges and journalists: that he believes the killing of unarmed American soldiers preparing to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan was necessary to protect Muslim insurgents. Whether he plans to speak, however, remains unclear.

Hasan continued to show little reaction Monday. He questioned none of the 12 prosecution witnesses, though he appeared to look down briefly and close his eyes during the testimony of one widow.

Hasan, an American-born Muslim, has admitted carrying out the attack and showed no reaction when he was found guilty. He is representing himself during his trial, yet he called no witnesses, declined to testify and questioned only three of prosecutors' nearly 90 witnesses before he was convicted last week.

At the minimum, the 42-year-old Hasan will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Prosecutors want Hasan to join just five other U.S. service members currently on military death row. No American soldier has been executed since 1961. Many military death row inmates have had their sentences overturned on appeal, which are automatic when jurors vote for the death penalty. The president must eventually approve a military death sentence.

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