Fort Hood killer gets sentence he wanted

Death penalty imposed on US Army psychiatrist who murdered 12 fellow troops and a civilian

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 August, 2013, 2:24am


The US Army psychiatrist who admitted killing 13 unarmed people at Fort Hood nearly four years ago has been sentenced to death by lethal injection.

Major Nidal Malik Hasan was convicted, as expected, by a jury. The main question in the trial was whether he would receive the death penalty.

Prosecutors had from the start built a case for execution for an attack that a Senate report called the worst act of terrorism on US soil since September 11, 2001. But Hasan, a Muslim, taunted the military justice system, refusing to put up a defence and suggesting that death to him was just a means to martyrdom.

His stance left the army's lead prosecutor, Colonel Michael Mulligan, telling jurors during his closing argument that Hasan was not and never would be a martyr.

"Do not be fooled," he told the 13 senior army officers on the panel. "He is not giving his life. We are taking his life. This is not his gift to God. This is his debt to society."

Do not be fooled. He is not giving his life. We are taking his life. This is not his gift to God. This is his debt to society

The jurors took a little more than two hours to decide on the sentence. If even one of them had objected to Hasan's execution, he would have been sentenced to life in prison. The same jury on Friday found Hasan guilty of 45 counts of murder and attempted murder.

Because of the high profile and heavy toll of the attack on November 5, 2009 in which more than 40 people were killed or wounded, Hasan is likely to become the first US soldier in more than 50 years to be executed in the military's death chamber at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

The execution would require presidential approval.

Hasan said he was driven by a hatred of US military action in the Muslim world and a desire to protect Taliban leaders in Afghanistan. He turned on troops with a laser-sighted semi-automatic pistol and fired 146 rounds at men and women as they crawled on the floor or crouched behind desks and cubicles. He killed 12 soldiers and a civilian who lunged at him with a chair. Inside a Fort Hood courtroom fortified with blast-resistant barriers, Hasan showed no emotion as the sentence was read out.

Some military legal experts suggested Hasan's case - in which he became a non-participant at his own trial and sought the death sentence - represented a fundamental breakdown of the military justice system.

Hasan was found competent to stand trial and the judge, Colonel Tara Osborn - who repeatedly told him it was unwise to proceed on his own - said his right to represent himself allowed him to be "the captain of his own ship".

But his entire sentencing case amounted to three words: "The defence rests."