The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

August 28, 2013

Nidal Husan sentenced to death for killing 13 people in Fort Hood shooting

FORT HOOD, Texas — A military jury sentenced Maj. Nidal Hasan to death today for the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, giving the Army psychiatrist what he believed would be a path to martyrdom in the attack on unarmed fellow soldiers.

The American-born Muslim, who has said he acted to protect Islamic insurgents abroad from American aggression, never denied being the gunman. In opening statements, he acknowledged to the jury that he pulled the trigger in a crowded waiting room where troops were getting final medical checkups before deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The same jurors who convicted Hasan last week had just two options: either agree unanimously that Hasan should die or watch the 42-year-old get an automatic sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole.

Hasan had no visible reaction when the verdict was read Wednesday, staring first at the jury forewoman and then at the judge.

Officials said he will be taken back to a county jail and then transported on the first available military flight to the military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. The timing on the flight wasn’t immediately clear.

Hasan could become the first American soldier executed in more than half a century. But because the military justice system requires a lengthy appeals process, years or even decades could pass before he is put to death.

The lead prosecutor assured jurors that Hasan would “never be a martyr” despite his attempt to tie the attack to religion.

“He is a criminal. He is a cold-blooded murderer,” Col. Mike Mulligan said Wednesday in his final plea for a rare military death sentence. “This is not his gift to God. This is his debt to society. This is the cost of his murderous rampage.”

For nearly four years, the federal government has sought to execute Hasan, believing that any sentence short of a lethal injection would deny justice to the families of the dead and the survivors who had believed they were safe behind the gates of the Texas base.

And for just as long, Hasan has seemed content to go to the death chamber for his beliefs. He fired his own attorneys to represent himself, barely put up a defense during a three-week trial and made almost no effort to have his life spared.

Mulligan reminded the jury that Hasan was a trained doctor yet opened fire on defenseless comrades. He “only dealt death,” the prosecutor said, so the only appropriate sentence is death.

He was never allowed to argue in front of the jury that the shooting was necessary to protect Islamic and Taliban leaders from American troops. During the trial, Hasan leaked documents to journalists that revealed him telling military mental health workers in 2010 that he could “still be a martyr” if executed.

When Hasan began shooting, the troops were standing in long lines to receive immunizations and doctors’ clearance. Thirteen people were killed and more than were 30 wounded. All but one of the dead were soldiers, including a pregnant private who curled on the floor and pleaded for her baby’s life.

The attack ended only when Hasan was shot in the back by an officer responding to the shooting. Hasan is now paralyzed from the waist down and uses a wheelchair.

The military called nearly 90 witnesses at the trial and more during the sentencing phase. But Hasan rested his case without calling a single person to testify in his defense and made no closing argument. Even with his life at stake during the sentencing hearing, he made no attempt to question witnesses and gave no final statement to jurors.

Death sentences are rare in the military, which has just five other prisoners on death row. The cases trigger a long appeals process. And the president must give final authorization before any service member is executed. No American soldier has been executed since 1961.

Hasan spent weeks planning the Nov. 5, 2009, attack, including buying the handgun and videotaping a sales clerk showing him how to change the magazine.

He later plunked down $10 at a gun range outside Austin and asked for pointers on how to reload with speed and precision. An instructor said he told Hasan to practice while watching TV or sitting on his couch with the lights off.

When the time came, Hasan stuffed paper towels in the pockets of his cargo pants to muffle the rattling of extra ammo and avoid arousing suspicion. Soldiers testified that Hasan’s rapid reloading made it all but impossible to stop him. Investigators recovered 146 shell casings in the medical building and dozens more outside, where Hasan shot at the backs of soldiers fleeing toward the parking lot.

In court, Hasan never played the role of an angry extremist. He didn’t get agitated or raise his voice. He addressed the judge as “ma’am” and occasionally whispered “thank you” when prosecutors, in accordance with the rules of evidence, handed Hasan red pill bottles that rattled with bullet fragments removed from those who were shot.

 

1
Text Only
News
  • Fatal24 Danville woman dies as logging truck crushes car in Valley Township

    DANVILLE — An 84-year-old Danville woman was killed when her car and a logging truck collided Wednesday afternoon at Routes 642 and 54 in Valley Township.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rabbi Conflict in Israel grounds Sunbury rabbi

    TEL AVIV, Israel — While the Israelis and Hamas traded rocket and missile strikes for a 16th day, Rabbi Nina Mandel is struggling to find her way back to Sunbury after the FAA on Wednesday announced that it would extend its ban on travel at Ben-Gurion International Airport for another 24 hours.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Docs: Fractures helped save rock victim's life

    DANVILLE — Sharon Budd’s condition is progressing nearly a week after a 13 1/2-hour procedure in which a team of surgeons rebuilt her facial bones and removed a damaged part of her brain, said two Geisinger Health System physicians who are part of that team

    July 24, 2014

  • Magistrate judge sides with Warrior Run

    WILLIAMSPORT — A federal magistrate judge says he agrees with a hearing officer that a Warrior Run student does not need special-education services,

    July 23, 2014

  • Inaugural Lewisburg BrewBQue Musical Festival is Saturday

    LEWISBURG — Not a beer fan? Not a problem. This Saturday’s inaugural Lewisburg BrewBQue Musical Festival, taking place from 2 to 6 p.m. on Market Street from Sixth Street to the Susquehanna River, welcomes brew lovers, barbecue fans, dancers in the street and little tykes alike with an array of events and offerings, organizers said.

    July 23, 2014

  • Decision coming on police shooting of city man

    SUNBURY — Brad Hare, the city’s former acting police chief, will learn by Friday whether he was justified in shooting a city man earlier this month, Northumberland County District Attorney Ann Targonski said Wednesday.

    July 23, 2014

  • Union County bridge replacement project begins Aug. 4

    HARTLETON — A PennDOT maintenance crew in Union County will begin a bridge replacement project Aug. 4 on Pleasant Grove Road, Route 3005, in Lewis Township, between Moll Road and Wirth Road, north of Pleasant Grove.

    July 23, 2014

  • DanCrash23.jpg BREAKING NEWS: Woman killed today in Danville area collision

    [UPDATED -- 12:18 a.m., 07/24/14]

    VALLEY TWP. — An 84-year-old Danville woman was killed when her car and a logging truck crashed Wednesday afternoon at Routes 642 and 54 in Valley Township.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jay Paterno sues Penn State for 'rush to judgment'

    STATE COLLEGE - Two former Penn State assistant football coaches, including a son of the late Joe Paterno, are suing the university, alleging that it fired them prematurely after the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal surfaced.

    July 23, 2014

  • 400-pound bull on the lam

    State police and a western Pennsylvania cattle owner are looking for a 2-year-old bull that has been missing for more than a week.

    July 23, 2014

The Daily Marquee
Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.