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. g.r.r.

    I have never been a fan of death penalty except for treason (such as outing a CIA agent).
    And that remains the case here. Far far better to sentence him to life with no parole in Leavenworth.
    I would have to say that I would prefer death over getting a sentence like that.

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

      Yes by all means, let's be forced to spend millions on his medical needs and keeping him locked up. What garbage, he should be dead already. Too bad the MP's didn't walk over to him while he was down and shoot him again.

      July 6, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • changomango

      If all those who out or attempted to out CIA agents were given the death penalty, there wouldn't be very many liberals left !

      July 6, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • changomango

      @junior–if the MP's would have shot him in the head while he was down, the libs would demonize them yet they hold no ill will for this Muslim terrorists.

      July 6, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Deep North

    I'm still ticked at the MP's who missed in the first place! this should not be a court case.

    July 6, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. alumette

    send him to Florida. I hear they get great jury pick there. We can have him back to work in no time.

    July 6, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Doctor too

      oh another mindless nancy grace drone crying and moaning over the casey anthony verdict.

      I can only hope all the ignorant ones like you get put in her place and have your type, you know the ones too slow to make their own conclusions and listen to facts and instead rely on Nancy Grace to decide if someone is guilty or not as your jurors.

      now that would be justice and would eliminate some "dumb and dumber" genes from the human gene-pool at the same time, win win for all of us.

      July 6, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Edward Woltin

      no his court-martialed ass will be executed, military doesn't make mistakes

      July 6, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. D. Hurley

    Glad to hear it, but a pity he cannot die a slow, agonizing one.
    Lethal injection is far too easy for this piece of excrement.

    July 6, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Tony M ex uk forces

    He should be subject to millitary law. No more no less. Don't make him a martyr, let him spend the rest his life considering his actions

    July 6, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • changomango

      What kind of dumb thought process.
      We should not kill Muslim terrorists because it will only breed more terrorists so we should just allow them to continue to kill us.
      We should not kill Muslim terrorists because it will make them a martyr so we should just allow them to continue to kill us.

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

    Hasan wants Baez as his defense attorney

    July 6, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ben

    @g.r.r. Hope you never serve on a jury, you'd be one of those idiots that would let someone like OJ or Casey Anthony go.

    July 6, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Christ

    death penalty or convert to christianity

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

    OMG- they should SOOO give him a trial. I'm sure he'd be declared NOT GUILTY!! We have the best judicial system- with absolutely NO morons running it!! It's so great to be a SCAMerican! Happy CORRUPTION to all!

    July 6, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      So your upset that he killed the people that protect the country your insulting. Pick a side idiot. "SCAMerican" nice one retard. Have you ever considered killing yourself? My advice go ahead and follow through on those thoughts.

      July 6, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. HRH banasy

    @Mike:
    My thoughts, exactly.
    You beat me to it.

    July 6, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. 007

    Is this the first execution of a Palestinian terrorist by the hands of the USA ever? (Sirhan Sirhan is serving a life sentence)

    July 6, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Joe in Colorado

    Of course a U.S. army general approved the death penalty. Killing is the only thing the military knows how to do. They're a gang of murderers commissioned to do the dirty work of the government and big business.

    July 6, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      I agree! What is the military thinking? It's not like this guy is a murder! It's not like the military is killing the people who want to kill you and everyone you care about! It's not like we give our lives to defend you. Guess what, you don't want us to fight your wars, we wont. How about grow a pair and vote for someone to end these wars. Better yet, run for office and make changes. Oh wait, you can't do either one. Your not intelligent enough to read a voter registration card and you can't run for office becuase your two busy living in your Mom's basement. I'm in the military and if all killing is the only thing I know how to do you should be very worried,

      July 6, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Apul M'Deek-Aoud

    He's a soldier, killing is his job.

    July 6, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. vinny

    they should wheel him right off a bridge and into shark infested water

    July 6, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kay

    Brace yourselves; this will be the next guy to get off what with the dumb jurors we have in this country.

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