Nightly News   |  August 06, 2013

Soldier in Fort Hood trial makes startling admission

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who appeared in court today in an Army combat uniform and is acting as his own attorney, has been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder.  NBC’s Mark Potter reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> it was a brazen attack on american soldiers where you would least expect it, a secure army base in the middle of texas. 13 people were killed, more than twice that many injured. nearly four years later, the accused shooter, a fellow soldier went on trial for his life in a military courtroom. mark potter has more in the courtroom.

>> reporter: good evening, lester, the opening day of trial here was most unusual. the defendant served as his own attorney. and made a startling admission in court. even though he faces a possible death penalty. it was one of the bloodiest rampages ever on a u.s. military base. a single gunman identified by authorities as army major nidal hassan , opening fire on unarmed soldiers and seville yams at ft. hood texas in november of 2009 . he was charged with 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder. he too was shot by a policeman. and is now paralyzed. in court today, hassan wore an army combat uniform and a beard and sat in a wheelchair. he's acting as his own attorney, and in his opening statement , offered no defense, but an explanation saying, the evidence will clearly show that i am the shooter and that he switched sides to defend islam. prosecutors say in planning the attacks, he bought lots of ammunition. and his motive was anger over being called up for deployment to afghanistan. colonel steve henrik said he had a gee has duty to kill as many soldiers as possible. one on the list of surviving victims to testify described how he was shot seven times.

>> that's when he yelled alla akbar, pulled weapons out and started discharging inside of our building.

>> reporter: many of the victims have sued the u.s. government . asking to classify the shootings as an act of terror.

>> they left every one of these victims behind and their families. and they've treated them disgracefully.

>> survivors are also outraged hassan is collecting his military salary. totalling $300,000 since his arrest. the pentagon said it can't stop the payments unless he's convicted. security for this trial is so tight, that hassan is flown to court every day by helicopter and has special accommodations. the cost of which also outrage the victims.