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Soldier sentenced to death for Fort Hood shooting

By Michael Graczyk & Nomaan Merchant

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 09:32 a.m. HST, Aug 28, 2013

FORT HOOD, Texas » A military jury sentenced Maj. Nidal Hasan to death today for the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, giving the Army psychiatrist what he believed would be a path to martyrdom in the attack on unarmed fellow soldiers.

The American-born Muslim, who has said he acted to protect Islamic insurgents abroad from American aggression, never denied being the gunman. In opening statements, he acknowledged to the jury that he pulled the trigger in a crowded waiting room where troops were getting final medical checkups before deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The same jurors who convicted Hasan last week had just two options: either agree unanimously that Hasan should die or watch the 42-year-old get an automatic sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole.

Hasan had no visible reaction when the verdict was read today, staring first at the jury forewoman and then at the judge.

Officials said he will be taken back to a county jail and then transported on the first available military flight to the military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. The timing on the flight wasn't immediately clear.

Hasan could become the first American soldier executed in more than half a century. But because the military justice system requires a lengthy appeals process, years or even decades could pass before he is put to death.

The lead prosecutor assured jurors that Hasan would "never be a martyr" despite his attempt to tie the attack to religion.

"He is a criminal. He is a cold-blooded murderer," Col. Mike Mulligan said today in his final plea for a rare military death sentence. "This is not his gift to God. This is his debt to society. This is the cost of his murderous rampage."

For nearly four years, the federal government has sought to execute Hasan, believing that any sentence short of a lethal injection would deny justice to the families of the dead and the survivors who had believed they were safe behind the gates of the Texas base.

And for just as long, Hasan has seemed content to go to the death chamber for his beliefs. He fired his own attorneys to represent himself, barely put up a defense during a three-week trial and made almost no effort to have his life spared.

Mulligan reminded the jury that Hasan was a trained doctor yet opened fire on defenseless comrades. He "only dealt death," the prosecutor said, so the only appropriate sentence is death.

He was never allowed to argue in front of the jury that the shooting was necessary to protect Islamic and Taliban leaders from American troops. During the trial, Hasan leaked documents to journalists that revealed him telling military mental health workers in 2010 that he could "still be a martyr" if executed.

When Hasan began shooting, the troops were standing in long lines to receive immunizations and doctors' clearance. Thirteen people were killed and more than were 30 wounded. All but one of the dead were soldiers, including a pregnant private who curled on the floor and pleaded for her baby's life.

The attack ended only when Hasan was shot in the back by an officer responding to the shooting. Hasan is now paralyzed from the waist down and uses a wheelchair.

The military called nearly 90 witnesses at the trial and more during the sentencing phase. But Hasan rested his case without calling a single person to testify in his defense and made no closing argument. Even with his life at stake during the sentencing hearing, he made no attempt to question witnesses and gave no final statement to jurors.

Death sentences are rare in the military, which has just five other prisoners on death row. The cases trigger a long appeals process. And the president must give final authorization before any service member is executed. No American soldier has been executed since 1961.

Hasan spent weeks planning the Nov. 5, 2009, attack, including buying the handgun and videotaping a sales clerk showing him how to change the magazine.

He later plunked down $10 at a gun range outside Austin and asked for pointers on how to reload with speed and precision. An instructor said he told Hasan to practice while watching TV or sitting on his couch with the lights off.

When the time came, Hasan stuffed paper towels in the pockets of his cargo pants to muffle the rattling of extra ammo and avoid arousing suspicion. Soldiers testified that Hasan's rapid reloading made it all but impossible to stop him. Investigators recovered 146 shell casings in the medical building and dozens more outside, where Hasan shot at the backs of soldiers fleeing toward the parking lot.

In court, Hasan never played the role of an angry extremist. He didn't get agitated or raise his voice. He addressed the judge as "ma'am" and occasionally whispered "thank you" when prosecutors, in accordance with the rules of evidence, handed Hasan red pill bottles that rattled with bullet fragments removed from those who were shot.

Associated Press writer Will Weissert contributed to this report from Fort Hood.

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dlum003 wrote:
cowards must die
on August 28,2013 | 09:43AM
allie wrote:
There is no Allah of course and this man murdered in a massive way for a figment of his diseased imagination.
on August 28,2013 | 09:47AM
Brixac3 wrote:
This was a TERRORIST attack folks!!! People are Islamic Extremist's detonators of weapon of mass destruction (WMD). Suicide car bombs, the 911 suicide airplane hijackers, the suicide boat bomb used in Yemin, suicide bombers in marketplaces and this assassin that inflitrated our military are the WMD's of terrorists. Everyone of these scenarios requires a person that will sacrifice their one (1) life for the lives of many. In their chess game, the loss of one piece for more than one piece is a small battle won in their war on the west. To call it just another "murder" doesn't put this event in the proper context. We need to call it what it is. This was a TERRORIST ATTACK.
on August 28,2013 | 10:14AM
WKAMA wrote:
Hasan wants to die because in his mind there is a glorious after life waiting for him. So to punish him let him rot in prison for the rest of his life. He won't be suffering when he's dead. People suffer when they're alive and deprived of their freedom.
on August 28,2013 | 10:18AM
SteveToo wrote:
He's not gonna get 42 Virgins in Heaven. He's gonna meat 43 Virginians out side the gate who are gonna kick his a-s-s. LOL
on August 28,2013 | 03:58PM
Skyler wrote:
Awesome. Soon he'll realize just how wrong he was about those 72 virgins.... too bad he can't report back to the other murdering fools in this world.
on August 28,2013 | 10:32AM
Mei mei wrote:
any way my other post got deleted, my question was why do these individuals that associate themselves with the islamic/muslin religion resort to incredible violence??? and consider themselves martyrs -
on August 28,2013 | 11:41AM
lokela wrote:
Execution should be immediately. Why waste our dollars holding this dirt bag. Which of course is the meaning of 'martyr'.
on August 28,2013 | 12:19PM
serious wrote:
You are correct---where's John Wayne or Clint when you need them---hang 'em high.
on August 28,2013 | 01:09PM
Morimoto wrote:
One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Hasan is no worse than those U.S. military personnel that go to Iraq or Afghanistan in the name of "freedom" with all their superior weapons and training. Hasan waged war, now he's suffereing the consequences. He's not a coward, he attacked soldiers and he knew sooner or later he'd be shot. In war you need to take every advantage of your enemy's weaknesses. Just like drone strikes, this is no different. You are NOT evil Mr. Hasan, no matter what the sheep say.
on August 28,2013 | 12:23PM
SteveToo wrote:
Are you N-U-T-S Morimoto?????????????????? He's a coward, those he killed were un-armed. You should return to the land of your ancestors.
on August 28,2013 | 04:00PM
lynnh wrote:
I hope you get investigated for your comment. You are sp far beyond wrong it is disgusting! The @#$%#%^ attacked his own countrymen who were unarmed, and also spouses and civilian employees. He is a coward and a murderer in the worst way. He is a terrorist and a traitor. I would like to meet up with you and set your "weaknesses" strait you S O B.
on August 28,2013 | 06:47PM
Villyboy wrote:
I think he should run the gauntlet with MP's with belly clubs. Sorry that's the way I feel. Pissed off ex Grunt!
on August 28,2013 | 03:10PM
SteveToo wrote:
Pretty mellow Title for the article. What SA, trying to hide the fact that a fanatical radical Muslim coward killed all those people? Please can I pull the trigger? Flip the switch? Or do the injection?
on August 28,2013 | 03:56PM
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