Rick Jervis and Doug Stanglin, USA Today, August 23, 2013
Maj. Nidal Hasan, the radicalized Army psychiatrist who turned his gun on fellow soldiers at Fort Hood four years ago in the name of jihad, was found guilty Friday of all counts, including premeditated murder.
He now faces the death penalty and could be the first person the U.S. military puts to death in more than 50 years.
A 13-member panel, or jury, of high-ranking officers voted unanimously to convict Hasan, 42, on a slew of premeditated murder and attempted murder charges for killing 13 people and injuring 31 others in the Nov. 5, 2009, attack at the U.S. Army base in Texas.
As the verdict was read, Hasan had no visible reaction.
The panel, which took only about seven hours to convict Hasan, now turns to the sentencing phase of the trial to decide whether to recommend putting him to death by lethal injection or have him spend the rest of his life in prison. Prosecutors are expected to call 16 witnesses over two days during the sentencing phase.
The 17-day court-martial of Hasan included 89 prosecution witnesses who described in vivid and graphic detail how Hasan entered a medical processing building on Nov. 5, 2009, and opened fire on unarmed soldiers and one civilian with a FN 5.7 semiautomatic handgun, reloading high-capacity magazines several times and firing 146 rounds.
Hasan, a Virginia-born Muslim who represented himself, was mostly passive throughout the trial, cross-examining only a handful of witnesses, calling none himself and opting not to make a closing statement. From his opening statement Aug. 6, he admitted to being the gunman and pledged his allegiance to the mujahideen, or holy warriors.
The case had been besieged by delays and bizarre twists, including the dismissal of the original judge during a dispute over to allow Hasan to grow a beard. Hasan also fired his defense team and chose to represent himself.
Through media leaks and statements to the judge, the American-born Muslim signaled that he believed the attack was justified as a way to protect Islamic and Taliban leaders from U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Through witness testimony, 911 calls and FBI videos, prosecutors recounted how Hasan purchased the murder weapon months before the shooting, spent weeks training to shoot at silhouette targets at a local shooting range and planned the attack inside busy Building 42003, where soldiers gathered for final medical clearance before deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The accused went out that day to kill as many soldiers as he could … or anybody else who tried to stop him,” prosecutor Col. Steve Henricks said.
The U.S. military carried out its last execution on 1961, with the hanging of Army Pvt. John A. Bennett. He was convicted in 1955 of the rape and attempted murder of an 11-year-old Austrian girl.