FORT HOOD, Texas (KXAN) - Husbands, wives, sons, and daughters.
They were mourned, they were crying, and they were remembered on the first day of the sentencing phase of convicted Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Hasan.
A day that was, by far, the most emotional day of the now three-week old trial.
“You can’t make any more memories,” cried Cristi Greene while on the stand. She lost her husband Fred in the Nov. 5, 2009, attack.
“All you had is all you have got.”
The prosecution followed a familiar formula for each of the dozen witnesses they called to the stand on Monday. They asked each respective family member to talk about their lost loved one.
Then they asked them to recall the day they found out their husband or son or daughter was dead and the pain that has resulted every day since.
“None of us have been able to overcome it to this day,” said Juan Velez through a Spanish interpreter. His daughter, Private First Class Francheska Velez, was pregnant when she was killed in the attack.
“(Hasan) did not kill 13,” said Velez. “He killed 15. He killed my grandson and he killed me. Slowly.”
Angela Rivera cried as she discussed the consequences from the death of her husband, Eduardo Caraveo.
“I would just cry because I did not know how to tell him that daddy was not coming back,” she said about her son who was two years old at the time.
Rivera told the jury she never stopped service to her husband’s cell phone because she would still call his voicemail just to hear his voice.
She had hoped her son would be able to listen to the message and know what his father’s voice sounded like, but a service provider upgrade to the voicemail system recently deleted Caraveo’s greeting message.
Much like in the first phase of the trial, Hasan did not cross-examine any of the prosecution witnesses.
Many said they were watching television news reports about the shooting and tried to get in contact with their family on-post.
But the bad news came for most in the form of two uniformed army officers.
“At 3 a.m., I woke up for a doorbell,” said Shoua Her. “My heart just dropped. I saw through my window there were two military men on the doorstep.”
Specialist Jason Hunt’s wife Jennifer heard about the shooting, but did not think she had anything to worry about.
“I thought ‘what are the chances?’ This is the largest base ever,” said Jennifer.
“There was a knock on my door and I thought they shut the base down and he came home early to surprise me.”
The knock on the door were the officers informing her of Jason Hunt’s death.
During their testimony, family portraits and pictures of the victims and their relatives were shown for the jury.
“Such a tender look and that angel-like smile,” said Velez as he talked about his daughter’s life, her goals, and her dreams.
Shoua Her, the widow of Private First Class Kham Xiong, talked about how her dreams had been shattered.
“Vacations are now just dreams that we once had,” said Her, a mother of three. “My daughter won’t have her dad to walk her down the aisle. My two sons won’t have their dad to take them fishing or teach them sports or how to be a gentleman.”
“We can only imagine.”
Injured soldiers testify
Injured soldiers who testified earlier in the trial were also called back for the sentencing phase to discuss the impact of their injuries.
“I am a lot angrier and darker than I used to be,” said Staff Sgt. Patrick Lee Ziegler.
Ziegler was shot four times and resulting operations cost him 20 percent of his brain. He also suffers from paralysis to the left side of his body.
“My wife had plans for her education and career,” said Ziegler. “(The plans) have been ruined because of Nov. 5.”
Holding a job has become a difficult task for Ziegler due to his mental and physical handicaps and even playing with his 10-year-old son is a challenge.
Another injured soldier, Mick Engnehl, also testified about his trouble finding work due to injury.
“Nobody is going to hire a paralyzed mechanic,” said the 23-year-old who was shot twice, suffering paralysis in his right arm.
Jury to decide life or death
The foregone conclusion is now official and out of the way.
Now comes a decision that will be wide-open for debate.
A jury panel surprised no one on Friday when it unanimously convicted Army Maj. Nidal Hasan on all of the 45 counts he faced for the deadly Nov 5, 2009, attack on Fort Hood.
But an appropriate punishment for those crimes hardly holds a consensus opinion among those close to the case, including the victims themselves.
Hasan can either be given the death penalty or life in prison.
In order for a death sentence, the jury panel of 13 must unanimously decide on that punishment.
Even a 12-1 vote would result in a life sentence in prison.
“Ultimately, it is their sense of justice, their sense of what is right in this case that will prevail,” said Geoff Corn, a professor at the South Texas College of Law. “There is no formula. There is no equation they apply.”
During a pre-sentencing hearing on Friday, Hasan gave indications he would be much more active in defending himself during the sentencing phase.
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