Retired Colonel to Defend Accused Fort Hood Shooter

John P. Galligan was once a military judge at Fort Hood.

ByElisa Roupenian
November 09, 2009, 4:59 PM

BELTON, Texas, Nov. 9, 2009— -- A retired Army colonel and former military judge at Fort Hood has been hired to represent the officer accused of going on a shooting spree and killing 13 people last week at the Texas military base.

John P. Galligan told ABC News that he has been retained by the family of Major Nidal Malik Hasan and has traveled from his office in Belton, Texas, to San Antonio where Hasan is being treated at the Brooke Army Medical Center.

In an interview today on "Good Morning America," Galligan said Hasan was still heavily sedated but understood why his lawyers were there.

"We met for about a half an hour," Galligan said. "He's still hospitalized, and I'm not a doctor but I'd consider his condition still guarded."

Hasan, who was shot several times, has been able to talk with hospital staff, but Galligan refused to comment on Hasan's state of mind or any possible motive for the shooting, saying it would be "premature and improper."

"Anytime someone is charged with an offense of this nature, and I'm not talking about his case specifically, any defense counsel would want to ensure there is not a mental responsibility issue present," Galligan said.

He said he intends to make sure that Hasan's rights are protected, and to that end has asked federal authorities to stay away from his client. Galligan also said that Hasan's defense counsel will request its own investigator as well as paralegal assistance to conduct its own investigation into last week's attack.

"I don't think we really know all of the facts, we don't know what the charges are, we're not even necessarily sure of exactly what the specific jurisdictions" Galligan told ABC News.

While no charges have yet been filed against Hasan, military sources late today confirmed to ABC News that Hasan would be charged and tried in military court, although it is still not clear if the trial would be held at Fort Hood or at another military facility.

Prosecutors have also said they have yet to be able to determine a motive for the lethal rampage, although family and acquaintances say Hasan was increasingly religious and had turned against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In addition, Hasan was distressed by the stories told by injured soldiers where he previously worked as a psychiatrist at Walter Reed Hospital, and had recently received word that he was going to be deployed to Afghanistan.

The commander of Fort Hood, Lt. Gen. Robert Cone, announced plans for Tuesday's memorial service to honor the 12 soldiers and one civilian who were killed in last week's carnage. President Obama will attend the service.

The president told ABC News' Jake Tapper that investigators are reviewing Hasan's actions.

"We are going to complete this investigation and we are going to take whatever steps are necessary to make sure that something like this doesn't happen again," Obama said.

"I think the questions that we're asking now and we don't have yet complete answers to is, is this an individual who's acting in this way or is it some larger set of actors? You know, what are the motivations? Those are all questions that I think we have to ask ourselves," the president said.

Number of Fort Hood Wounded Has Risen

Families of 11 of the 13 people killed will be at the traditional memorial service that will include remarks by Obama and Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey. It will end with a roll call of the shooting victims and a 21-gun salute, Cone said.

The toll of wounded rose today to 43. Fort Hood officials said some of the casualties didn't report their injuries until later.

Fifteen victims remained hospitalized with gunshot wounds, and eight were in intensive care.

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