Nidal Hasan convicted in Fort Hood shootings; jurors can decide death

HasanFort Hood, Texas (CNN) — A military jury on Friday convicted Army Maj. Nidal Hasan of 13 counts of murder and 32 counts of attempted murder in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, making it possible for the death penalty to be considered as a punishment.

The jurors deliberated less than seven hours over two days before finding Hasan guilty on all charges in connection with the November 5, 2009, shootings at a deployment process center.

The Army psychiatrist admitted to targeting soldiers he was set to deploy with to Afghanistan, saying previously he wanted to protect the Taliban and its leaders from the U.S. military.

Under the rules of a military court-martial, the jury must return a unanimous verdict of premeditated murder for the death penalty to be considered as a punishment option. The jury is not required to tell the court whether they reached a unanimous verdict on the attempted murder charges.

The court-martial moves on Monday to the penalty phase, where Hasan — acting as his own attorney — will have the opportunity to address the jurors considering whether he should be executed for his actions.

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As has been done nearly every day in the three-week court-martial, the judge asked Hasan if he had reconsidered defending himself as the case enters the penalty phase.

Jurors “will decide whether you live or die,” the judge, Col. Tara Osborn, told Hasan after reconvening the court Monday afternoon as part of the penalty phase preparation. “…I think it is unwise for you to represent yourself.”

Hasan told the judge he intended to continue acting as his own attorney.

Courtroom reaction

Inside the courtroom, the judge warned the audience in the gallery, including family members of those killed, before the verdict was announced that outbursts and reactions to the verdict would not be tolerated.

Hasan stroked his beard as the jury — a military panel of 13 senior officers — filed into the courtroom. He then looked at the head of the jury — a colonel — who affirmed a verdict had been reached.

Hasan showed no emotion as the verdict was read, a contrast to a handful of some of family members who cried or gave one another brief hugs.

“Today’s guilty verdict, rendered almost four years after the attack, is only a first, small step down the path of justice for the victims,” said attorney Neal M. Sher, who represents victims and families of those killed in a compensation claim against the government for failing to stop the attack.

Read more at CNN.COM


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