Hasan guilty of all charges
A trial that was a long time coming ended long before anyone had anticipated and now it's all over but the shouting - and the sentencing.
On Friday, August 23, a military jury unanimously found former United States Army Major Nidal M. Hasan guilty of 13 counts of premeditated murder, as well as 32 additional counts of attempted premeditated murder. The charges resulted from a 10-minute shooting rampage in November 2009 at Fort Hood, near Killeen.
Because each of the 13 premeditated murder convictions could result in the death penalty for the former psychiatrist, military law required the jury panel to report a unanimous verdict for those 13 counts. The sentencing phase of the court martial began on Monday, August 26, with victim impact statements.
Hasan, who is defending himself, indicated he would continue his pro se defense even though he now faces a possible death sentence.
When apprised of the guilty verdict, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said, "Nidal Hasan's cowardly attack on our military was a deliberate act of terror against our country. This guilty verdict affirms we are a nation of laws, honors the victims of this heinous act and proves that, even in the face of unspeakable tragedy, we will never waver from the core principles for which they gave their lives - freedom, liberty and democracy."
In addition, the families of the victims of the Fort Hood massacre will receive Texas veterans' benefits.
On the day of Hasan's convictions, Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson rejected the notion that soldiers killed by Hasan - who has been described as a "jihadist mass murderer" - were victims of workplace violence. Instead, Patterson announced the State of Texas would treat their families as if their spouses had been killed in combat.
Witnesses interviewed at the time of the incident said the gunman shouted, "Allahu Akbar" - Arabic for "God is great" - before opening fire in a crowded processing facility.
Not 'workplace violence'
"This wasn't workplace violence. These were casualties of war and we're going to change the rules to give these families full access to Veterans Land Board (VLB) benefits," said Patterson, who also serves as VLB chairman. "We'll let the lawyers work out the details, but I intend to make sure we honor their sacrifice."
To qualify for VLB benefits, veterans must be honorably discharged, must have served at least 90 days of active duty and must live in Texas. Patterson has ordered VLB staff attorneys to sort out how an exception may be made for the Fort Hood victims.
"Each of the active and retired military members who died in the Fort Hood terrorist attack lost their life while assigned to duty in Texas or in support of the military in Texas," Patterson said. "They were physically on duty in Texas and chose to remain until the time of their death in defense of both the citizens of the United States and Texas."
He continued, "Like Travis and Crockett, their spilled blood remains forever intermingled with Texas soil. Their surviving spouses who are residents of Texas at the time of application should be eligible for VLB programs."
'They will pay'
In his closing arguments in a court-martial that lasted just a little over two weeks, prosecutor Col. Steven Henricks outlined the government's argument that Hasan was the sole shooter in the rampage at the processing center. As motives, Henricks said Hasan did not want to deploy to Afghanistan, and, if made to deploy, Hasan had stated, "They will pay." The second motive presented was that Hasan believed he had a jihad duty to kill as many soldiers as he could.
On Wednesday, August 21, Judge Col. Tara Osborn clarified a ruling she made regarding witnesses speaking to the media. She reiterated that this order was only temporary and at the court-martial's conclusion, witnesses would be able to speak about the case.
After calling 89 witnesses to the stand during 11 days of testimony, the prosecution rested on Tuesday, August 20. Two witnesses testified to Hasan's reluctance to deploy, one of whom testified to Hasan's statement that if he were made to deploy, "They will pay." Also, according to another witness, Hasan had requested a follow-on fellowship to delay his deployment by two years.
Earlier, FBI Special Agent Charles Cox spoke about the forensic search of a computer seized from Hasan's apartment. Cox indicated that the multiple Internet searches conducted previously on the computer included searches for "killing of innocent persons," "jihad," "laser sites," "Afghanistan," "Taliban" and "5.7 x .28 caliber ammunition."
Prosecution evidence that Osborn declined to allow to be introduced into evidence included Hasan's inquiry into obtaining conscientious objector status, the use of evidence on Sgt. Hasan Akbar's court-martial and the accused's previous questionable academic presentations, as well as e-mails sent by Hasan from 2008 to 2009.
Akbar was tried for a premeditated attack that occurred in March 2003 at Camp Pennsylvania, Kuwait at the start of the United States' invasion of Iraq. After a conviction in April 2005, he was sentenced to death for the murders of two soldiers. The Army Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the sentence on July 13, 2012. A subsequent appeal is now pending before the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.
Last week, a government witness testified about a shootout between the accused and two Fort Hood police officers. In his cross-examination, Hasan asked the witness to explain in detail what had occurred. The witness described that he saw Hasan continue to fire on Sgt. Kimberly Munley after she had been disarmed. Hasan asked no further questions.
On Wednesday, August 21, Hasan's entire defense consisted of the statement, "The defense rests."
Pictured: This memorial at Fort Hood commemorates the 13 soldiers and civilian killed in the 2009 shooting. Thirty-two others were wounded. On Friday, August 23, former US Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan was convicted of all charges.