In this courtroom sketch, Angela Rivera, wife of Maj. Libardo Caraveo, who was one of 13 people killed in the Fort Hood shootings, appears on the witness stand Aug. 26 during the sentencing phase for Maj. Nidal Hasan in Fort Hood, Texas. The jury found Hasan unanimously guilty on the 13 charges of premeditated murder, and he is eligible for the death penalty for the 2009 attack. (Brigitte Woosley / AP)

Angela Rivera, widow of Fort Hood victim, gives emotional testimony

When Angela Rivera drove to the airport to pick up relatives after a shooting rampage at a central Texas army post four years ago, her son John Paul wondered aloud if they would pick up his father. But Rivera struggled to find the words to tell her two-year-old that her husband, Maj. L. Eduardo Caraveo, was one of the casualties who had had died at the hand of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan in the 2009 shooting rampage in Fort Hood.

“Ms. Rivera, how do you explain to a 2-year-old the concept of death?” asked Col. Mike Mulligan, the trial’s lead prosecutor.

“I couldn’t do it,” Rivera replied, adding that a therapist later helped her explain what happened.

Rivera was among a dozen fellow widows and soldiers who tried to persuade a jury Monday that Hasan should receive the death sentence.

The Army psychiatrist was convicted Friday on 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder. Hasan – who is defending himself – faces a military jury of 13 officers, all Hasan’s rank or higher.

Monday’s testimony painted an emotional picture of the servicemen who were casualties of the Army base shooting.

Caraveo, Rivera’s husband, had been at Fort Hood preparing for his first deployment to Afghanistan. He and Rivera never left voicemails for each other, Rivera said Monday. If they saw a missed call, they just called each other back.

But as news of the shooting at Fort Hood spread, Rivera never received a call. She talked to an Army base official, who told her that the families of all victims had been notified. Rivera went to bed.

At 5:25 a.m., Rivera woke to the sound of a doorbell ringing. A glance to the glass door revealed the silhouettes of two uniforms. Thanksgiving was around the corner and the 52-year-old Caraveo had been scheduled to fly home. Instead of a happy homecoming, Rivera received a few final mementos of her husband’s keeping: a camera, a few photos and his cell phone.

And while Rivera eventually left the home she shared with her husband – there too many reminders, she told the jury, including his car in the garage – she kept the cellphone.

Because as long as she kept the account activated and the phone charged, Rivera testified Monday, she could hear Caraveo’s voice greeting her. With his voicemail, she could keep Caraveo’s memory alive for their son.

Then one day Rivera made a disturbing discovery. Caraveo’s voice had disappeared. She called Sprint, her husband’s former cell phone carrier, but the voicemail greeting had changed. Her husband’s voice was gone and her young son would never hear his voice again.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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