Fort Hood killer faces possible death penalty
on 26/08/2013 10:56:20
Maor. Nidal Hasan showed no reaction after being found guilty last week by a military jury, which will now decide whether the Virginia-born Muslim who said he opened fire on unarmed American soldiers to protect insurgents abroad should be executed.
Twelve of the dead were soldiers, including a pregnant private who pleaded for the unborn child's life. More than 30 others were wounded in the 2009 attack on the Texas Army post, where investigators collected more than 200 bullet casings.
At the minimum, the 42-year-old Hasan will spend the rest of his life in prison. "This is where members (of the jury) decide whether you will live or whether you will die," Colonel Tara Osborn, the trial judge, told Hasan on Friday following his conviction.
She then again implored Hasan, who represented himself during the 14-day trial, to consider letting his standby lawyers take over for the sentencing phase. He declined.
Jurors deliberated for about seven hours before finding Hasan guilty on all counts. He gave them virtually no alternative, as he did not present a defence or make a closing argument, and he only questioned three of the nearly 90 witnesses called by prosecutors.
His silence convinced his court-ordered standby attorneys that Hasan wants jurors to sentence him to death. Hasan told military mental health officials in 2010 that he could "still be a martyr" if he is executed.
The sentencing phase will be Hasan's last chance to say in court what he has spent the last four years telling the military, judges and journalists: that the killing of American soldiers preparing to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan was necessary to protect Muslim insurgents.
Hasan was prohibited from making a "defence of others" strategy during the guilt or innocence phase of his trial, but he will have more latitude during the sentencing portion. This has led legal experts and his civilian lawyer, John Galligan, to believe that Hasan could put himself on the witness stand this week.
Prosecutors want Hasan to join just five other US service members currently on military death row, and are planning to put more than a dozen grieving relatives in the witness box. Three soldiers who survived being shot by Hasan but were left debilitated or unfit for service are also expected to testify.
But most will be widows, mothers, children and siblings of the slain, who are expected to tell a jury of 13 high-ranking military officers about their loves ones and describe the pain of living the last four years without them.