Accused Fort Hood Shooter to Have Military Trial, Will Face Death Penalty

Fox News

DEVELOPING: The Army psychiatrist  charged in the deadly Fort  Hood rampage in Texas will be court-martialed and face the death penalty,  Fox News confirms.

Maj. Nidal Hasan is charged with 13 counts of  premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the  November 2009 shooting spree at the Texas Army post.

It was not immediately clear when Hasan will be  arraigned in a Fort Hood courtroom. He must plead not guilty based on the nature  of the case, according to military law.

Hasan’s lead attorney, John Galligan, had urged the  commanding general not to seek the death penalty, saying such cases were more  costly, time-consuming and restrictive. In cases where death is not a punishment  option for military jurors, soldiers convicted of capital murder are  automatically sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.

“I believe the Army as an institution has long been  planning to go this route,” Galligan told The Associated Press on Wednesday from  his office near Fort Hood, about 125 miles south of Fort Worth.

Two Army colonels who reviewed the case previously  recommended that Hasan be tried in a military court and face the death  penalty.

Galligan has declined to say whether he is  considering an insanity defense for his client. He has refused to disclose  results of a military mental health panel’s evaluation of Hasan but said it  would not prevent the military from pursuing a court-martial.

The three-member panel determined whether Hasan is  competent to stand trial and his mental state during the shootings. It also  determined if he had a severe mental illness that day, and if so, whether such a  condition prevented him from knowing at the time that his alleged actions were  wrong.

Hasan was paralyzed from the waist down after being  shot by police the day of the rampage. He remains jailed in the Bell County  Jail, which houses defendants for nearby Fort Hood.

Hasan has attended several brief court hearings and  an evidentiary hearing last fall that lasted about two weeks. He sometimes took  notes and showed no reaction as 56 witnesses testified, including more than two  dozen soldiers who survived gunshot wounds.

Witnesses testified that a gunman wearing an Army  combat uniform shouted “Allahu Akbar!” — which is Arabic for “God is great!” —  and started shooting in a small but crowded medical building where deploying  soldiers get vaccines and other tests. The gunman fired rapidly, pausing only to  reload, even shooting some people as they hid under tables or fled the building,  witnesses said. He fatally shot two people who tried to stop him by throwing  chairs, and killed three soldiers who were protecting civilian nurses, according  to testimony.

The gunman was identified as Hasan, an American-born  Muslim who was scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan the following month. Before  the attack, Hasan bought a laser-equipped semiautomatic handgun and repeatedly  visited a firing range, where he honed his skills by shooting at the heads on  silhouette targets, witnesses testified during the hearing.

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