Army approves death penalty option in trial for accused Fort Hood shooter
July 6th, 2011
11:33 AM ET

Army approves death penalty option in trial for accused Fort Hood shooter

A U.S. Army general Wednesday approved a possible death penalty in the future military trial of Maj. Nidal Hasan, the American Muslim accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009.

Lt. Gen. Donald Campbell, the Fort Hood commander, formally announced that the charges against Hasan will be tried as capital offenses in a general court-martial. His decision means that if a panel of military officers finds Hasan guilty, they can consider the death penalty as a possible sentence.

Campbell's decision moves the case forward and also eliminates the possibility that Hasan, a psychiatrist, could enter a guilty plea and prevent a costly and lengthy trial.

A court-martial could be months away.

"After a referral of a case to trial by court-martial, a military judge will receive the case and at some future date, set a schedule," said a statement from Fort Hood Wednesday. "The first likely matter for a military judge to schedule in this court-martial is the arraignment of Hasan. No military judge has been named to this case at this time."

A capital court-martial is highly unusual. The last military execution in the United States took place in 1961.

Hasan is accused of killing 13 people and wounding 32 others in November, 2009. Witnesses at a preliminary hearing identified him as the man who calmly walked through a medical building on the country's largest military base, shooting and frequently reloading his handgun as he shouted "Allah Akbar," which means "God is great" in Arabic.

Hasan's government-appointed defense lawyer, John Galligan, had urged the military against allowing the death penalty as a possible sentence in a trial. Galligan met behind closed doors with Army officials in mid-May to argue that the case should not have the possibility of the death penalty, and described his meeting with Campbell as very cordial.

"The law accepts life without the opportunity of parole as an appropriate punishment for murder," Galligan said. "We had an opportunity to make our compelling argument that the (Hasan) case should be referred non-capital."

Galligan was at the jail Wednesday morning meeting his client when the prosecution delivered papers to him informing that the court-martial would proceed with a possible death penalty.

The defense attorney said he was not properly informed in advance and was not provided with the necessary documents by the prosecution.

"It is a sad, sad day to see how they are proceeding," Galligan told CNN by telephone. "They continue to use these tactics that are a denigration of the defendant's right to due process."

Galligan has previously said that a non-capital trial for his client would be quicker and cheaper. And he repeatedly has complained that he and his client have been denied full details of what U.S. intelligence agencies knew about Hasan's contacts with overseas terrorists, including Anwar al-Alwaki, an American-born cleric now believed to be in Yemen and is the target of American drone attacks.

Hasan, who is partially paralysed and confined to a wheelchair after being shot by police responding to the rampage, is being held in a county jail near Fort Hood.

Last week, the Obama administration's top anti-terrorism official pointed to the Fort Hood killings as an example of how extremists overseas were inspiring or assisting violent attacks inside the United States.

"It is al Qaeda's adherents - individuals, sometimes with little or no direct physical contact with al Qaeda, who have succumbed to its hateful ideology and who have engaged in, or facilitated, terrorist activities here in the United States," John Brennan, assistant to the president for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, said in a speech in Washington June 29.

"These misguided individuals are spurred on by the likes of al Qaeda's Adam Gadahn and Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen, who speak English and preach violence in slick videos over the Internet," Brennan said. "And we have seen the tragic results, with the murder of a military recruiter in Arkansas two years ago and the attack on our servicemen and women at Fort Hood."

Brennan said the shootings at Fort Hood and the attempted bombing of an airliner in December, 2009, had prompted new vigilance by U.S. intelligence. "Following the attack at Fort Hood and the failed attack over Detroit, we've improved the analytic process, created new groups to track threat information, and enhanced cooperation among our intelligence agencies, including better information sharing so that all threats are acted upon quickly."

An investigation by two senior U.S. senators called Hasan "a ticking time-bomb" and faulted both the military and federal agents for not raising the alarm sooner about his links to overseas terrorists and possible violence. "Although neither the Department of Defense nor the FBI had specific information concerning the time, place, or nature of the attack, they collectively had sufficient information to have detected Hasan's radicalization to violent Islamist extremism but failed both to understand and to act on it," that report said

The Army admitted problems with how it had evaluated and promoted Hasan and disciplined nine officers for "administrative and leadership failures" in not spreading the alarm about Hasan before the attacks.

soundoff (365 Responses)
  1. Ted

    It was a sad sad day for the families of every person that this muslim human excretment murdered.

    July 6, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Whatever

    Ahh just let him go too, you let Casey Anthony walk.

    July 6, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Emigdio

      Nope, Casey Anthony's trial never had any real evidence. The shooter had too many witnesses and evidence.

      July 6, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • dubs1

      I'll let your wiener walk. This guy I'll cut off. Execution by a bullet in the head. Out back of the Courthouse in the pig-pen.

      July 6, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • dubs1

      He should be buried in a pig-pen with parts of his "body" exposed after execution by a bullet to the head.

      July 6, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. banasy

    I think he deserves a fair trial, he did good. That's his job, kill people, he was trained for that so don't blame him.

    July 6, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      He was a doctor, idiot. Military docs are pretty inept at the fighting aspect of the military, being that a) they're doctors, and b) they're officers. They're hardly proficient with the use of their 9mm pistols. So no, he was not a trained killer. He was supposed to be in the business of saving lives.

      July 6, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • eddie

      alex yur right mann

      July 6, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • scott

      regardless of his career field he was still trained to use weapons.

      July 6, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Casey'scrotch

      Or in his case prescribing antianxiety medications and having people talk about their relationship with their mothers. he was a shrink so not really much a life saving doctor either.

      July 6, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • chedar

      See what false religion (Christian and Islam) can do to you? Both religion are nothing but cult. By the way they both came from Abraham which spread the wrong religion thereby brothers against brother and killing each other in the name of religion. Sad

      July 6, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Your Dumb

      Your proof that retarded people shouldn't speak.

      July 6, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • dubs1

      Actually the conjunction is YOU'RE. Proof that you are untarded and shuldont speek.

      July 6, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • grammar police

      you're grammar sucks

      July 6, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lance1948

      I agree with grammar police "dubs1", your grammar is horrendous :/

      July 6, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • dubs1

      You meaning who? Somebody who hasn't murdered anybody? Shame he didn't kill somebody defending a blatantly extreme murderer of our Countrymen. Shame you weren't his co-conspirator.

      July 6, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dan

    Light him up like a Christmas Tree.

    July 6, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Nathan

    From someone currently in the Army.. just treat him according to the military laws on the books. Give him a swift military court martial, and if found guilty, give him the firing squad. That would be the sweetest detail I was ever on, I'm shooting for his crotch...

    July 6, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Skip

      Amen. I'd gladly volunteer to be behind one of the guns.

      July 6, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. james Griffin

    Since we are a country of laws, he has a right to a defense. After the Casey Anthony trial yesterday, that scares the hell out of me. We have got to start dealing with criminals in a way that sends a strong message. These people are now running amok in this country with the law just about supporting them. Either we deal with terrorism or we don't! We cannot straddle the fence any more!

    July 6, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      I cannot believe anyone thinks he might be found innocent. There were hundreds of witnesses in this case. None in the Casey Anthony case and no cause of death.

      July 6, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • TC Williams

      It's not a question of guilty or not guilty. It's a question of arriving at the right result. The result is more than just guilt – whether the perpertrator did it. The question is of sentencing and punishment as well. That's why ALL people deserve fair trials, even the ones who are undoubtedly guilty.

      July 6, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • jlbh2222

      The good thing here is he will be tried by the Army, not by Civilians. Also there is waaaaayyyyy to much proof, as mad as the whole Casey Anthony thing makes me, there was no hard evidence.

      July 6, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Timkatt

      I certainly wouldn't want to be convicted of something I didn't do just because a bunch of people think it was the "right thing to do"

      July 6, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. mslane

    He does not have allegiance to America just to his religion..this is the problem when the core values are not the same as ours. I would be very suspect of any fanatic like him working in any of the sensitive government domains. Seems to me that this so called religious faith that he and others practise, has no tolerance for difference and that is the everyday threat.

    July 6, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • D

      talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

      July 6, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Nate

    They should make him watch Teletubbies for 12 hours a day and play Slayer the entire time he sleeps. He'll kill himself in no time

    July 6, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dan Caselerve

    Soooooooooooooooooooooo I'm cornfused.. it IS or is NOT ok to kill people? These stories the past few days have been contradictory to the max.

    July 6, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob1

      Only in America crime seems to legally pay off and have great rewards....only in America folks.

      July 6, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Emigdio

      Not ok. But to convict someone, you need evidence.

      July 6, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. CatchMe

    "Allah Akbar," which means "God is great" in Arabic – Seriously, CNN ? Even a two year old baby knows that very well. Stop assuming your readers are stupid.

    July 6, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Pamela Cutler

    The facts speak for themselves.

    July 6, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Pamela Cutler

    The facts speak for themselves. EVERY PICTURE TOLD THE STORY,EYEWITNESSES TOO.

    July 6, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. gpl2032

    Gee...what took so long? I wouldn't be surprised to see the following people come to his defense: Farrakhan, NBP's, CAIR, Al Sharpton, Jessee Jackson...heck lets throw in Eric Holder and maybe even a special apearance by none other then the Pretender in Chief bhO...

    July 6, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JohnCBarclow

    What a bunch of hypocrites. U.S. soldiers murder people left and right in other countries, day in and day out for years, and no one cares. Then this guy shoots up some soldiers, and everyone throws a fit. Come on, people. This isn't football, your team right or wrong. This is real life. If it's OK for the military to murder people, it's OK for the military to be murdered. Or if it's not OK for the military to be murdered, it's not OK for them to murder people.

    July 6, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • gpl2032

      Your joking right?

      July 6, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sally

      Hate to insult mentally challenged people but are you re tarded?

      July 6, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob1

      Apparently you don't know the difference between killing in a battlefield environment when people are ready for the fact that they might die so they have the time to take precautions, and/or being a complete "COWARD" by shooting soldiers in a non hostile environment, and that is the key difference between the two you MORON.

      July 6, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Karen

    Mus lims live by the sword, they should d i e by the sword....

    July 6, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob1

      Totally agree.....

      July 6, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
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