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Ft. Hood widow tells jury of lasting wounds

August 27, 2013|By Molly Hennessy-Fiske
  • In a courtroom sketch, convicted Ft. Hood gunman Maj. Nidal Hasan, center, sits before the judge, Army Col. Tara Osborn, during the sentencing phase of his trial.
In a courtroom sketch, convicted Ft. Hood gunman Maj. Nidal Hasan, center,… (Brigitte Woosley / Associated…)

FT. HOOD, Texas -- She had been married for five years with three children and plans for more, plans to buy a house and build a life -- but that life ended Nov. 5, 2009.

Dressed in black, Shoua Her took the stand Monday and told a military jury about the toll the mass shooting at this central Texas Army post, which killed 13, had taken on her and her family.

They had met in middle school, married and had two boys and a girl, ages 4, 2 and less than a year. They had come from Minnesota, where Pfc. Kham See Xiong, 23, had joined up after he was laid off. She didn’t want him to, but he had a father and two brothers in the military. They lived off-post, in Army housing.  

Just before the shooting, Her said, she exchanged texts with her husband. Would he be coming home for lunch? No, he said, he was busy, waiting in line at an Army medical building, the soldier readiness center that became ground zero for the attack.

During the trial, a witness told of waiting in line with Xiong, who chatted about sports and his family, showing off family photos on his cellphone in the moments before Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan opened fire.

Hasan, 42, an Army psychiatrist, was convicted last week of 13 counts of premeditated murder in connection with the shooting. One of those counts was Xiong.

He was shot three times, twice in the head, a pathologist testified at trial. Bullets removed from his body were entered into evidence.

On Monday, his young widow told the jury of 13 officers who will decide Hasan's sentence about the other wounds they suffered after the shooting.

Her husband will never be there to walk their daughter down the aisle, to teach their sons how to be gentlemen. She has become a single mother, buying a house on her own but still missing him in it.

She will never again feel the safety of his arms around her, she said, his soft, gentle hands.

His side of the bed is empty, cold.

There will be no more children, no growing old together.

“All that was stripped away from me,” she said as she faced Hasan, who did not react, even when prosecutors displayed photos of the young family on a computer in front of him.

Hasan is facing a potential death sentence. More victims and relatives are expected to testify Tuesday.

Prosecutors want Hasan to join five others on military death row. But even if he is sentenced to death, execution is not guaranteed.

No U.S. soldier has been executed since 1961, in part due to an automatic and lengthy appeals process and the requirement that the president approve a military death sentence. Numerous military death row inmates have had their sentences overturned on appeal.

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