Jury mulling fate of admitted Fort Hood shooter
FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — Military jurors resumed deliberations Friday in the trial of the Army psychiatrist who told them he was responsible for the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood and mounted nearly no defense, even as prosecutors asked for a sweeping conviction that would allow a death sentence.
Maj. Nidal Hasan — who is acting as his own attorney — is accused of killing 13 people and wounding more than 30 others at the sprawling Texas military base in November 2009. But he declined to call any witnesses, testify in his own defense or give a closing argument during his trial.
Hasan gave a brief opening statement to jurors nearly three weeks ago, saying evidence would "clearly show" he was the shooter and described himself as a soldier who had "switched sides.
Since then, he's mostly remained silent as prosecutors called nearly 90 witnesses and submitted hundreds of pieces of evidence.
Jurors started deliberating the case Thursday after prosecutors finished their closing argument. The jury deliberated for nearly three and a half hours before asking to rehear testimony from the police officer who ended the Nov. 5, 2009, attack by shooting Hasan, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
The judge agreed but then allowed the jury to break for the night.
Hasan, an American-born Muslim, faces numerous counts of premeditated murder and attempted premeditated murder in the deadliest attack ever on a U.S. military base. Prosecutors have pushed for the death penalty, and military attorneys assigned to Hasan — who have remained on standby throughout the trial as he goes it alone — have suggested he wants to be put to death.
In order for Hassan to face the death penalty, the jury's 11 men and two women will have to find him unanimously guilty of at least one count of premeditated murder as well as another murder charge. The military court system hasn't executed an active-duty U.S. soldier since 1961.
"We ask you return a unanimous verdict of guilty to 13 premeditated counts and an additional 32 attempted premeditated counts," prosecutor Col. Steve Henricks told jurors during Thursday's closing arguments.
Henricks described how, when Hasan learned he would be part of a unit deploying to Afghanistan, he visited Guns Galore, a firearms store in Killeen, adjacent to Fort Hood about 70 miles north Austin. Hasan asked for advice and bought the most high tech, highest-capacity pistol available.
Hasan later trained at an off-base gun range and used laser sights. He eventually carefully targeted a medical building he knew would be crammed with soldiers preparing for or returned from overseas military deployments — mostly in Afghanistan or Iraq — the same day his unit would be at the building.
Henricks reminded jurors that before Hasan started shooting, Hasan cried "Allahu Akbar!" — Arabic for "God is great!"
The prosecutor added: "So no one should be confused about his motives that day and no one should be confused today either."
Henricks also replayed an FBI crime scene video that showed victims' bodies strewn on the floor, among overturned desks, scattered office chairs and pools of blood.
"With a doctor's precision, knowing where vital organs are, and trained at that range, you see kill shots to the body," Henricks said of Hasan's targeting his victims.
Since his opening statement, Hasan sat mostly silent in his wheelchair, raising few objections. He has argued in letters to media outlets that the rampage was necessary to protect Muslim insurgents abroad from American soldiers in combat.
Associated Press writer Michael Graczyk contributed to this report.