Fort Hood Shooter Gets the Death Penalty He Allegedly Sought

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan sits in court for his court-martial Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013, in Forth Hood, Texas. 
National Journal
Matt Berman
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Matt Berman
Aug. 23, 2013, 10:22 a.m.

Maj. Nid­al Has­an was con­victed last Fri­day of pre­med­it­ated murder in the 2009 shoot­ing at the Fort Hood mil­it­ary base in Texas. The at­tack killed 13 people and in­jured more than 30. Has­an, an Army psy­chi­at­rist, said his goal was to help Muslim in­sur­gents over­seas.

The con­vic­tion made Has­an eli­gible for the death pen­alty, and pro­sec­utors pushed for it. On Wed­nes­day, a mil­it­ary jury sen­tenced him to death. He could be the first Amer­ic­an sol­dier to be ex­ecuted since 1961. But, based on the be­liefs of an at­tor­ney dur­ing the case, that sen­tence could give Has­an just what he wants.

Dur­ing the tri­al, Has­an chose to rep­res­ent him­self, but he had three standby mil­it­ary law­yers on hand for ad­vice if he re­ques­ted it. One of those de­fense at­tor­neys wor­ried earli­er this month that Has­an was “work­ing in con­cert with the pro­sec­u­tion in achiev­ing a death sen­tence.” That at­tor­ney, Lt. Col. Kris Poppe, told the judge in the case that it is “clear [Has­an’s] goal is to re­move im­ped­i­ments or obstacles to the death pen­alty and is work­ing to­wards a death pen­alty.”

Has­an took is­sue with the at­tor­ney’s in­ter­pret­a­tion of his de­fense, say­ing the at­tor­ney “made an as­ser­tion that is in­ac­cur­ate.”

In his self-de­fense, Has­san did not try, even a little, to present him­self as in­no­cent. In his open­ing state­ment, he said, “Evid­ence will clearly show that I am the shoot­er, and the dead bod­ies will show the war is an ugly thing.” The gov­ern­ment tried to make the case that Has­an “came to be­lieve he pos­sessed a ji­had duty to kill as many sol­diers as pos­sible.”

Wheth­er the death pen­alty is Has­an’s goal likely didn’t mat­ter in the sen­ten­cing, be­cause that is the pen­alty the pro­sec­u­tion was look­ing for. But it raises real ques­tions about how ser­i­ous a pun­ish­ment can be if it is what the crim­in­al is look­ing for. In court, the gov­ern­ment ar­gued that the death pen­alty is the only way to give the mil­it­ary and fam­il­ies of Has­an’s vic­tims justice and peace of mind. But if Has­an is look­ing to be­come a mar­tyr for his cause, it’s hard to see how giv­ing him that would help vic­tims and their fam­il­ies.

What We're Following See More »
HIGHLIGHT ISSUES FACING KIDS
FLOTUS to Speak at UN Luncheon
20 hours ago
THE LATEST
PRESSES CASE FOR REFORMS
Trump Meets with UN Leaders
1 days ago
THE LATEST

President Trump on Tuesday night met with UN Secretary Guterres and President of the General Assembly Miroslav Lajcak. In both cases, as per releases from the White House, Trump pressed them on the need to reform the UN bureaucracy.

AT U.N. TRUMP CALLS NUCLEAR DEAL AN “EMBARRASSMENT”
New Iran Policy Coming Next Month?
1 days ago
THE LATEST
“MASSIVE SOURCE OF EMBARRASSMENT”
Trump Calls Out U.N. Members for Human Rights Violations
1 days ago
THE LATEST
LEVELS AN IMPLICIT THREAT AT NORTH KOREA
Trump Calls Kim “Rocket Man” at U.N.
1 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login