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Emotional Testimony In Day One Of Fort Hood Sentencing

sketch of Nidal Hasan
(credit: CBS 11 News)

FORT HOOD (CBSDFW.COM) - Day one of the sentencing phase for convicted Fort Hood murderer, Nidal Hasan, proved to be the most emotional and gut-wrenching day of the three-week court martial.

One by one, victims of the mass shooting took the stand trying to convince a 13-member jury that Hasan deserves death.

Some widows spoke about attempting suicide, a survivor of the shooting talked about losing 20 percent of his brain and a child told her mother after hearing that her father was dead quote, "Life's not worth living anymore."

Juan Velez broke down on the witness stand while recalling the frantic efforts to reach his daughter Francheska shortly after hearing news of a shooting spree at Fort Hood where the young soldier was based.  The grieving father talked about hearing the news that Francheska, three months pregnant, was dead.

"I kept calling, leaving messages on her cell phone," he told the jury.   "Francheska was in the building where the shooting happened. My wife started to cry."

"It hurt me down to the bottom of my soul," said Velez.  Later testifying that Hasan "did not kill 13 that day, he killed 15.  He killed my grandson and he killed me slowly."

Earlier, a soldier who survived four gunshots fired by Hasan testified that he had 20 percent of his brain removed from a head wound.  Staff Sergeant Patrick Ziegler remains partially paralyzed and suffers from severe depression.

Zielger testified it "pretty much affected every aspect of my personality I'm a lot angrier and darker than I used to be."

Soldier Jason Hunt had been married only two months when his wife Jennifer received word he was one of the 13 killed during the massacre that wounded 31 in 2009.

Hunt told the jury,  that she "pretty much lost my mind for awhile, I got pretty suicidal, I've had two suicide attempts."

Hasan had an opportunity to cross- examine all of the witnesses, but declined.  He did ask the judge to take breaks after the witnesses, which is something he did not do during the trial.

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