Update: Army Maj. Nidal Hasan has been found guilty on all counts of premeditated murder and attempted murder in the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood. Hasan now faces either life in prison or the death penalty. Sentencing begins Monday.
Army psychiatrist Hasan acted as his own attorney in the case – but he did so little in his own defense that his standby counsel expressed concern that he was purposely seeking the death penalty.
Sentencing begins Monday. The sentencing phase runs similarly to a trial. The 13 members of the military panel will decide Hasan’s sentence—not the judge. Prosecutors are expected to call 19 witnesses, including family members. They’re expected to talk about the grief they experienced losing a loved one.
As it’s been throughout the court martial, it’s unclear what Hasan will do during sentencing. He did not give any closing argument and sentencing is the last chance he has to make a statement. He will continue to represent himself.
The jury must vote unanimously to give Hasan the death sentence. If he is given the death penalty, the case heads to an appeals court. If they affirm the ruling, the case could be appealed as high as the US Supreme Court. There are five soldiers currently on death row at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. The last time the army executed one of its own was in 1961.
Original post (9:45 a.m.): The 13 member military jury in the court martial of Maj. Nidal Hasan – the army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 and wounding more than 30 in a shooting at Fort Hood in 2009 – went into deliberations Friday just minutes after the judge called the court back to order. They began deliberating Thursday afternoon after hearing closing arguments from the prosecution. Hasan did not give a closing argument.
After deliberating for nearly four hours Thursday, jurors asked to hear testimony from Officer Mark Todd, the man who took down Hasan. They also asked to see a map of the area where he was shot.
The military panel must review 45 counts of murder or attempted murder, and determine whether or not it was premeditated. During closing arguments, government lawyers tried to convince the jury Hasan’s actions were planned. They said his purchase of a high tech weapon and laser sights, plus target practice, showed he was planning the attack. Prosecutors argued Hasan targeted soldiers in uniform during the shooting, and muffled the sound of hidden magazines under his uniform with paper towers. Prosecutors say Hasan was fueled by two motives: that he did not want to deploy overseas and felt he had a “jihad duty” to kill as many soldiers as possible.
Hasan faces the death penalty or life in prison without parole. In order for Hasan to get the death sentence, the jury must unanimously find him guilty of at least one count of premeditated murder, and two thirds of the jury must find him guilty of a second count of murder – whether or not it’s premeditated. If they do not believe the evidence shows beyond a reasonable doubt that the murders or attempted murders were premeditated, the judge has given them a list of lesser charges they can consider.
Hasan has remained largely silent since his opening statement, when he said the evidence would prove he is the shooter. Deliberations come after 11 days of graphic testimony. After the verdict comes down, sentencing will begin.