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. alex

    lock him up in solitary confinement for 30 years. it will kill him from the inside

    July 6, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Jim in AR

      I can't believe this traitorous murderer is still alive.

      July 6, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Victor

    I don't care how the limp-wristed media (including CNN) try to spin what happened at Ft. Hood, the shooting was an act of Islamic terrorism, and he should count his lucky stars that he's even getting a trial. Too bad the military doesn't use "Old Sparky". But if they did, CNN would probably protest that it was discrimination against the disabled if it wasn't "wheelchair accessible".

    July 6, 2011 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
    • gremlin

      I don't care what he did, he gets a trial. We can't put our legal system on the back burner because someone else decides to commit heinous acts. Treating the worst acts with fairness and allowing the system to work is our best act. I do wonder why he's not being charged with treason (or maybe he is and I missed it) since as military he would have had to swear allegiance. Treason is a capital offense clearly lined out in the Const-itution. Anyone know anything about that?

      July 6, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sterling

    Kill him. Then kill that PFC who distributed secret and classified info. Both are traitors.

    July 6, 2011 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  4. rjindc

    Please, just don't hold his trial in Florida! We don't need another murder set free by a jury who can't see that the defendent is guilty of the crime(s) he/she is dharged with.

    July 6, 2011 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  5. Doc Holliday(fayette mo.)

    Are we sure he did it? After all OJ and Casey didn't.

    July 6, 2011 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  6. rob

    Last time I checked treason during wartime was a death penalty worthy offense. I am not sure what the issue is.

    July 6, 2011 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  7. MommaHanna

    FIring squad please, and no clean shots. Prefer he suffers with by bleeding out.

    July 6, 2011 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  8. Mike

    "Galligan also has 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" Dude, ask your client who he was talking to and about what...why should the government make your case any easier? Besides, revealing what they knew might provide details on how they gathered said information, making other terrorist's jobs that much easier.

    July 6, 2011 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Flatsguide

      How true!!!

      July 6, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aubrie

      I was thinking the same exact thing... I couldn't agree with you more. What? The sadistic animal isn't confiding in his own attorney??? Boo hooo hoooo .... I feel so bad...... Treasonous Ba$tard. Hang him.

      July 6, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeremy

      Yeah and lets divulge Government secrets while we are at it. Releasing all of that information could jeopardize National Security. I say put his a$$ in general population. I know there are some die hard folks in there that would want a piece of him.

      July 6, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. CSnSC

    drown him in a vat of pigs blood and sell tickets

    July 6, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  10. D

    May?

    July 6, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  11. ndekitho

    we can hired syrian armed forces to treat him like they do to peacefull demonstrators in Hama...

    July 6, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Bob

    I do understand you are innocent till proven guilty but for god's sake he was seen shooting these people on a military base, yelling ALAH IS GREAT and pulling the da_n trigger multiple times.
    First thing I want to say is they should of shot him dead on the spot like the towel head over sea's, there should be not drawn out military court and waste more of our governments money. Here he is sitting in jail, getting 3 sqaure meals, medical and wasting our money even more.
    Get it over with, put him in a weighted sake and take him out to the ocean and drop him. Notice I never said anything about wasting a foolish bullet on him. He's not gonna get out of the sake and if he does he wont be able to swim back to shore from a few miles out to sea.

    July 6, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Flatsguide

      Shouldn't that be "sack"? You can get him drunk with "sake", then bury him at sea in a "sack".

      July 6, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • JRich

      So you want to save the money it would cost a bullet by weighing down a sack.. and driving him far enough off the coast in a boat to the point where he cant safely swim back?

      You really thought that one out.

      July 6, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ben

    Florida can't even vote correctly so why would we be surprised they can't come back with a correct jury decision? Good thing this trial's in Texas and not Florida or California.

    July 6, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jaycee

    They really just need to fry him! But since they won't, he should get the death penalty. And maybe someone inside prison will decide to take justice in their own hands. Disgusting! I know it's part of our justice system that everyone has a right to a defense, but this guy just needs to be killed. Victor is totally right – this is what Islamic terrorism is all about.

    July 6, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Larry - Columbia, SC

    That will cost too much, Alex. Behead him with a hack saw...that has a dull blade. Seriously, I am very happy to see that his trial will have the death penalty as an option. I would like to see him hanged on the public square.

    July 6, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
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