FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — Military jurors sentenced Maj. Nidal Hasan to death on Wednesday for the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood. Last week, the same jury found Hasan guilty of killing 13 people and wounding more than 30 others at the Texas military base. Here is a look at some key details about the case:
WHAT DID JURORS CONVICT HASAN OF?
Hasan was convicted of 13 specifications of premeditated murder and 32 specifications of attempted premeditated murder under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
WHY DID THE CASE TAKE SO LONG TO GET TO TRIAL?
Judges in the case granted a series of delays for preparation or other issues, often at the request of Hasan or his attorneys. A fight over Hasan’s beard, which violates military regulations, led to a reprieve shortly before the trial was expected to begin last year and the eventual replacement of the judge. Legal experts have said authorities are doing their best to avoid mistakes, noting that Hasan would have multiple mandatory appeals after being sentenced to death. Military appeals courts have overturned most death sentences they’ve seen in the last three decades.
WHAT DID FAMILY MEMBERS OF THOSE KILLED TELL JURORS?
Dozens of family members and survivors of the Nov. 5, 2009, attack testified about their overwhelming grief and attempts at recovery during the sentencing part of the trial. Angela Rivera said one of the saving graces after her husband, Maj. Eduardo Caraveo, was killed was his voicemail greeting, and for years she had his cellphone kept active so she could call it and hear his voice. Shoua Her recalled how she and her husband, Pfc. Kham Xiong, talked about growing old together and having more children. Now, she said, her children know their slain father only through memories or stories. Staff Sgt. Patrick Ziegler told jurors he was shot four times and underwent emergency surgery that removed about 20 percent of his brain. He is now paralyzed on his left side, unable to use his left hand, and blind spots in both eyes prevent him from driving.
WHAT DID HASAN SAY?
Hasan acted as his own attorney but called no witnesses in his defense and has said very little throughout the trial. During the penalty phase, he did not present any evidence and rested his case without testifying. Hasan had wanted to argue that he carried out the shooting in “defense of others” — namely, Taliban insurgents fighting American soldiers in Afghanistan — but the judge denied that strategy before the trial started. One of the few times Hasan spoke to jurors was during the trial’s first day more than three weeks ago. He said during a brief opening statement that the evidence would “clearly show” he was the gunman, but that it wouldn’t tell the whole story.
WHAT IS HASAN’S PHYSICAL CONDITION?
Hasan was shot in the back by officers responding to the shootings. He is paralyzed from the waist down, confined to a wheelchair, uses a catheter and wears adult diapers. His doctor testified earlier this year that Hasan cannot sit upright for more than 12 hours a day without his concentration being affected. His disabilities haven’t appeared to be an issue in the courtroom. He did not ask for as many breaks during trial as his doctor suggested he would need before trial. Hasan has been transported from jail to Fort Hood each day by military helicopter.
IS HASAN STILL CONSIDERED A SOLDIER?
Yes. He has retained his rank of major and his salary even in jail. He wore a green camouflage uniform in court, instead of the dress uniform defendants typically wear in a court-martial. The judge, Col. Tara Osborn, has said the camouflage uniform was easier for Hasan to wear as a paraplegic.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Before an execution date would be set, the death sentence will face years, if not decades, of appeals. It would need to be affirmed by Fort Hood’s convening authority, which would prompt automatic appeals at two military courts for the Army and then the armed forces, said Victor Hansen, a military law expert at the New England School of Law. If those fail, Hasan could ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review his case and file motions in federal court. The U.S. president must eventually approve a military death sentence. Many death row inmates have had their sentences overturned on appeal, and no active-duty soldier has been executed in the military system since 1961.