Monessen-native Mason eager to face Ft. Hood shooter in court
Brandy Mason isn't afraid to face alleged Fort Hood assassin Maj. Nidal Hasan in military court.
In fact, Mason – a Monessen native and Army captain shot and wounded in a Nov. 5, 2009, rampage – insists she's looking forward to being questioned by her accused attacker.
A military judge this month agreed to allow Hasan to represent himself and question witnesses.
“I've already stared him down once at the Article 32 hearing three years ago,” Mason said of the legal proceeding similar to a preliminary hearing in civilian law.
“I testified during that and his counsel questioned me. During that entire time, I pretty much made sure I stared him down. … I'm ready to face him again.”
Hasan faces the death penalty or life in prison without parole if convicted of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder.
Mason vowed she will not be intimidated when she takes the witness stand and confronts Hasan face-to-face.
“I'm an officer in the U.S. Army, and I will maintain my military bearings,” said Mason, stressing each word in a somber tone. “I will not let him see any emotion, because that means he wins. And I will not let him win.”
Mason suffered a bullet wound to her left thigh after Hasan allegedly opened fire in a personnel processing center at the base. She underwent surgery four days later.
Like many of the nearly three dozen shooting victims, Mason has grown impatient waiting for the trial in a case that's dragged on for more than three years.
Mason, currently living in Virginia, said she was told testimony was to start July 1. But recent developments involving Hasan and his court-appointed defensive advisors could lead to additional delay.
It's unclear when the judge will rule on whether to allow Hasan's request for a three-month trial delay.
“Right now, it's still scheduled for July 1, but he may get a continuance. So it's above me right now,” Mason said. “I'm ready to get this show on the road.”
A 1996 Monessen High School graduate, Mason joined the military in 2005.
She was at Fort Hood awaiting her second deployment to Iraq when the shooting occurred. At the time, Fort Hood was a major deployment point for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mason said many of her fellow victims were members of the National Guard and Army Reserve.
“I'm starting to feel close to 100 percent,” she said. “I still don't run, because I had a lot of scar tissue.”
Mason, 35, is enrolled in a six-month Captains Career Course at Fort Lee, Va.
“The goal is to become commander of a company,” Mason said. “I have 12 years left, and I plan on staying in.”
Mason said she'll be back in Texas by the end of July, whether the trial commences or not. Mason's daughter, Courtnee Heath, and granddaughter, Kaedyn Heath-Frost, currently reside in Texas.
“They're what keeps me grounded. And I have a great family back in Monessen that supports me, and I've got some great friends,” Mason said.
“I do get a little anxious with the trial, because I really want it to be over with. Let (Hasan) get his punishment and call it a day.”
Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-684-2635.