Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan (pictured above in prison clothes) has been sentenced to death for the killing of 13 people in 2009 at a Texas military base. The jury took just over two hours on Wednesday to decide on the former army psychiatrist’s fate.
Prosecutors had called for the death penalty in their closing arguments, arguing that Hasan had “dealt no compassion, no understanding … he only dealt death” when he embarked on the shooting spree in November 2009 at the base in Texas that also left 31 others injured.
A US-born Muslim of Palestinian descent, Hasan opted not to address the jury when offered a closing statement. Representing himself, Hasan called no witnesses and told the court at the start of the trial that “he was the shooter”.
He had attempted to plead guilty, but military rules do not allow guilty pleas in cases that carry the death penalty. An appeal is also automatic under the military justice system, meaning years may pass before he is put to death.
The 42-year-old US Army psychiatrist with the rank of major faces death by lethal injection. Hasan remains in a wheelchair after being shot in the back by an officer who ended the shooting spree at a medical processing facility within the Fort Hood base.
Hasan opened fire in a crowded waiting room, where troops were getting final medical checkups before deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan. Thirteen people were killed, including a pregnant private.
Religious argument disallowed
Early in the trial, presiding judge Col. Tara Osborn had disallowed Hasan’s bid to argue the attack was necessary to protect Islamic and Taliban leaders from US troops.
Prosecutor Col. Mike Mulligan said Hasan could “never be a martyr.”
“He is a criminal. He is a cold-blooded murderer,“ he said prior to the jury’s decision.
Last Friday, the same jury of 13 high-ranking Army officers had found Hasan guilty on all charges – 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder.
Hasan will be transported on the first available military flight to the military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, officials told the news agency Associated Press.
He becomes the first member of the US Army to receive the death penalty since the 2005 conviction of Hasan Akbar, who killed two in an attack on fellow soldiers in 2003.
ph/ipj (AP, dpa, Reuters)