We start, though, tonight with the beginning of one of the most unusual and possibly most traumatizing murder trials in a very long time.
The defendant,U.S. Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Hasan, shot and killed 13 people nearly four years ago at Fort Hood in Texas.
He wounded 32 more.
He went on his rampage,
three weeks before he was scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan, walking into a troop processing center,shooting unarmed soldiers and officers.
He says he did it for Allah.
Did it as a soldier in the war against America and the West.
He admits all this, by the way, but he legally cannot plead guilty.
So today in opening statements on day one of his court martial acting in his own defense,
if you want to call it that, he made a case for the prosecution,
and that only begins to cover the strangeness of these proceedings.
As for how traumatizing it may be,
Major Hasan will shortly be questioning some of the very people that he himself shot.
And on top of that, get this, he's still pulling down a paycheck from the Army.
He's earned hundreds of thousands of dollars while awaiting trial.
We'll explore that outrageous angle in just a moment.
But first Ed Lavandera who's covering the court martial.
Ed, you were there in court today.
Take us inside.
What was it like?
Well, Anderson, in many ways it was really intense.
I think many people are anticipating to see what Major Nidal Hasan, how he was going to act, how he was going to behave,
but it was the prosecutors that started off with an incredibly vivid and dramatic picture,
methodically going through the steps that Major Hasan took in this massacre.
And you know, it was very powerful and poignant at many times the prosecutors talking about the screams of a pregnant victim who was dying, screaming,
my baby, my baby, and then another witness describing how soon her voice went quiet,
and that was the moment that she had died.
So very powerful testimony and descriptions of what happened in those brief moments when this massacre took place.
And it is incredible that he's going to be able to question the very people that he shot.
And he offered to plead guilty both to the prosecutors and the judge.
His offers were denied.
Can you explain why?
Well, those are the rules of the Code of Military Justice.
And it is, when that someone is eligible for the death penalty,
and that is what prosecutors are pursuing in this case, the defendant is not allowed to plead not guilty.
They have to put on a not guilty defense, but it was really strange.
The judge started off the day by saying that Major Nidal Hasan has pleaded guilty and not an hour later you saw Hasan there in the courtroom claiming that he was the shooter and the evidence will clearly point to all of that.
So in many ways it was all kind of surreal.
It doesn't seem like Major Hasan is interested in any way in defending his guilt or innocence.
He seems bent on trying to justify what he had done.