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Fort Hood suspect quiet before jury pool

FORT HOOD, Texas — The Army psychiatrist charged in the deadly 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage declined to ask potential jurors any questions Tuesday as jury selection finally began in his long-awaited murder trial.

Major Nidal Hasan, who is serving as his own lawyer, did not take notes or confer with his former defense lawyers. During the nearly two-hour proceeding with the first group of 20 potential jurors, Hasan sat quietly in his wheelchair as the judge gave preliminary instructions and read about 300 witness names to find out if any of the Army officers knew them.

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Hasan, 42, faces execution or life without parole if convicted of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder.

Major Larry Downend, one of the prosecutors, asked the group if they agreed that the defendant’s choice of weapon and a motive could show premeditation. Everyone in the group nodded yes.

All officers indicated they had no moral opposition to imposing a death sentence, but also said they did not believe execution was the only punishment for someone convicted of premeditated murder.

After the group from Army posts nationwide was questioned by the judge and prosecutors, Hasan said he had no questions for the jury pool.

Six potential jurors were dismissed at prosecutors’ request, based on their answers in court Tuesday and to the lengthy questionnaires they turned in weeks ago. One officer said he knew one of the 13 killed on Nov. 5, 2009.

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