Major Nidal Hasan Trial Starts Tuesday

Posted at 8:08 PM, Aug 05, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-06 00:10:39-04

Nearly four years after the mass shootings on Ft. Hood, Army Major Nidal Hasan's trial will begin Tuesday morning with opening statements.

The judge told military officers to prepare for it to last between two to three months; however because Hasan is representing himself, it may go faster.

KXXV Military Law expert, Steve Walden says there isn't much difference from a military trial vs a civilian trial. 

"A military trial is very similar to a civilian trial except for the fact that the jury in this case will be a military panel," said Walden. 

During opening statements, both sides can only give a preview of what to expect throughout the trial without arguing the case.

"Judge has admonished Major Hasan where he can't go into the things he did and why he did them," Walden said. 

That goes for prosecutors. Since Hasan will be representing himself, a stand-by-lawyer will be by his side throughout the trial to guide him. 

"You rarely see this," Walden said. "This is a rare case you ever seen, he's held to the same standard as a lawyer. He's required to know the same rules and standards as lawyer."

Hasan faces the death penalty, and in order for him to get it, all 13 jurors have to unanimously agree. It may take years.

"You can expect for it to be appealed for quite sometime," Walden said. "It does go through a lengthy process. It doesn't have to be approved just because the jury comes back and says we want the death penalty."

The higher chain of command has to sign off on the death sentence. Typically, that doesn't happen. The last man executed in the military was in 1961.