Hasan trial coming to an end
The jury could deliver a verdict as early as today in the case against Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. But it may be several more days before they decide whether to sentence him to death for the massacre at Fort Hood.
Closing statements were slated to start this morning, and after the judge gives lengthy instructions to the jury, they will retreat to decide whether to declare him guilty of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder, or of lesser charges.
It is highly unlikely that the jury would not return a guilty verdict, as Hasan has admitted he was the shooter. Thursday afternoon, in a session where the jury was not present, he told the judge during a discussion of possible charges that he had “adequate provocation” to kill the soldiers that day.
“These were deploying soldiers that were going to engage in an illegal war,” he said.
For Hasan to get the death penalty, first the jury must vote unanimously to find him guilty on all the charges. Next, the prosecution and defense – Hasan, in this case – will call witnesses to prove aggravating factors and mitigating factors.
Then, the jury must determine that mitigating factors do not outweigh aggravating factors and vote unanimously for the death penalty.
Hasan would be transferred from the Bell County Jail, where he is being held during the trial, to the military’s death row, at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. There, he’ll wait to hear if the court-martial convening authority grants him clemency and also wait for the results of an automatic appeal – which could take years.
He wouldn’t be in solitary confinement at Leavenworth, but he will spend most of his time in his cell, similar to a state prison’s death row, said Lisa Windsor, a former military attorney who has seen the facility.
There are already five men in the military’s death row: Ronald Gray, Dwight J. Loving, Hasan Akbar, Andrew Witt and Timothy Hennis. Gray was sentenced to death in 1988.
The last time the military executed someone was April 13, 1961.
Witt’s sentence was recently overturned, but the Air Force said it would appeal the ruling.
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians the night of March 11, 2012, recently pleaded guilty to the crimes in order to avoid the death penalty. The military uses lethal injection.