The man who screamed “Allahu Akbar” while murdering 13 soldiers at Fort Hood in an incident the Army characterized as “workplace violence” has been found guilty on all counts in a military court.
A 13-member panel, or jury, of high-ranking officers voted unanimously to convict Hasan, 42, on a slew of premeditated murder and attempted murder charges for killing 13 people and injuring 31 others in the Nov. 5, 2009, attack at the U.S. Army base in Texas.
As the verdict was read, Hasan had no visible reaction.
Nor was there any outcry from the audience, which included relatives of the victims. Military judge Col. Tara Osborn had warned against any outbursts.
Several family members, however, left the courtroom with tears in their eyes.
The panel, which took only about seven hours to convict Hasan, now turns to the sentencing phase of the trial to decide whether to recommend putting him to death by lethal injection or have him spend the rest of his life in prison. Prosecutors are expected to call 16 witnesses over two days during the sentencing phase.
The 17-day court-martial of Hasan included 89 prosecution witnesses who described in vivid and graphic detail how Hasan entered a medical processing building on Nov. 5, 2009, and opened fire on unarmed soldiers and one civilian with a FN 5.7 semiautomatic handgun, reloading high-capacity magazines several times and firing 146 rounds.
Hasan, a Virginia-born Muslim who represented himself, was mostly passive throughout the trial, cross-examining only a handful of witnesses, calling none himself and opting not to make a closing statement. From his opening statement Aug. 6, he admitted to being the gunman and pledged his allegiance to the mujahideen, or holy warriors.
The case had been besieged by delays and bizarre twists, including the dismissal of the original judge during a dispute over to allow Hasan to grow a beard. Hasan also fired his defense team and chose to represent himself.
He did not call witnesses or testify, and he questioned only three of the prosecutors’ witnesses.
Through media leaks and statements to the judge, the American-born Muslim signaled that he believed the attack was justified as a way to protect Islamic and Taliban leaders from U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The prosecutor proved conclusively that the attack was premeditated. It’s hard to see how Hasan can avoid the death penalty.
Don’t bet on the Army changing its designation of the attack as “workplace violence.” If they were to designate Hasan’s rampage as a terrorist attack, it would trigger a series of required actions by the military, including an increase in benefits to survivors. And it would also allow families to collect a lot more money in a civil suit that many survivors are planning to file now that the trial is over.
But the woman who confronted Hasan as he was leaving the scene of the massacre and exchanged fire with him sounds more optimistic about a change in determination.
Munley said she hopes the end of the case and the overwhelming evidence presented by prosecutors prompts military leaders to reclassify the incident from “workplace violence” to an act of terrorism, which could generate more benefits and money to victims and their families.
If Hasan is executed, it will be the first death sentence carried out by the military since 1961, when Pvt. John Bennett was hung for the rape and murder of an 11 year old Austrian girl.