A recent pretrial hearing of Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Hasan provides the opportunity to again raise the question as to why prosecutors are not seeking justice for all the victims of the 2009 massacre.
At the hearing, attorneys for Hasan again confirmed their client’s willingness to plead guilty to 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder.
However, under federal law and the Uniform Code of Military Justice (§919a Article 119a), there was a 14th victim – the unborn child of Army Private Francheska Velez, herself killed in the shooting.
The 2004 Unborn Victims of Violence Act (UVVA)makes the killing or injuring of an unborn child during the commission of a crime a criminal offense, and allows for the prosecution of an individual who, intentionally or not, kills or injures an unborn child.
This is exactly what happened during the Fort Hood massacre (and, incidentally, during the Aurora theater shooting, albeit Colorado is one of the minority of states that do not have an unborn victims’ law); it is a clear instance of what originally prompted lawmakers to pass UVVA. According to a witness, Pvt. Velez’s last words before dying were, “My baby, my baby.”
Despite the UVVA, prosecutors are refusing to hold Hasan responsible for the shooting death of that baby. Pvt. Valez’s child may have been unborn but not, in the eyes of the law, unrecognized. It makes no difference to the applicability of the UVVA that a gun was used in this crime, but that fact only heightens the irony of the present circumstance.
Pvt. Valez’s last words and last concern were for the child she was carrying. Prosecutors owe it to her memory to seek justice for that child as for all the victims of the Fort Hood shootings.
Gene Tarne is a Senior Analyst at Charlotte Lozier Institute.