Nidal Malik Hasan, the US Army Medical Corps officer who killed 13 and wounded at least 30 in the Nov. 2009 shooting at Ford Hood, was sentenced today to death. Closing arguments were presented this morning to a jury panel of 13 Army officers. Deliberations began shortly thereafter, lasting more than two hours. The death penalty decision was unanimous.
Following a confession to the crimes during a court-martial just three weeks ago, Hasan today faced the final decision before a jury panel on whether he would receive a prison sentence or the death penalty. He offered no closing arguments in his own defense. Last Friday, the panel convicted Hasan on all 13 counts of premeditated murder. At the same time, he received an additional conviction for 32 counts of attempted murder, also premeditated.
Hasan, who has been acting as the attorney on his own behalf, had been expected by some to bring forward evidence that might mitigate the case against him. During the trial’s final stages, however, he offered nothing of the sort. Hasan had neither made use of provided witnesses nor relied upon the defense team provided for him. Not being able to do so, Hasan was ultimately sentenced to death for his crimes in the 2009 Ford Hood shooting. The shooter has remarked in court before that even if he were to receive the death penalty, he “would still be a martyr” to those who sympathize with him. Prosecutors sought to diminish any worry about this factor on the part of jurors. Hasan has also boasted that “I don’t think what I did was wrong because it was for the greater cause of helping my Muslim brothers.”
Col. Tara Osborn, the judge for the case, told Hasan on Tuesday that “you are the captain of your own ship,” assuring him that he would be sealing his own fate by not speaking up in his own defense. Hasan acknowledged that he understood the consequences. Prosecuting attorneys have submitted at least 700 pieces of evidence, with more than 100 witnesses being called to the stand over the duration of the case. The bulk of Tuesday’s proceedings included personal testimony from family members of the deceased, as well as from surviving victims.
One of those who spoke this week was Joleen Cahill, the widow of victim Michael Cahill. “The shooting and his killing is not going to destroy my family,” Cahill said, insisting that Hasan was “not going to win” the case.
Lt. Col Randy Royer, another who actually survived the shooting after enduring two gunshots, described the various complications he has had to deal with in the event’s aftermath. “I have mental issues,” he told the Army panel, adding “I take anxiety medication … I don’t do well with that.”
Referring to the expert witnesses offered to Hasan earlier this week, Judge Osborn asked him, “Are you freely and voluntarily choosing not to provide the evidence they developed for you?”
Hasan simply answered that the judge was correct.
In response, Osborn requested once more that Hasan come back to the court Wednesday with some factors that might help in reducing the severity of his sentence. Hasan ended up ignoring the request.
The sentencing of Nidal Hasan to death on Wednesday marks a close to the four-year-old case of the shooting at Ford Hood in Texas, where the US Army major and psychiatrist shot and killed 13 people and wounded 32 others. The Department of Defense has formally called the shooting an incident of “workplace violence,” while others – particularly survivors and the families of those killed – have sought to have it be considered a terrorist act.
Written by Chris Bacavis