Jury Deliberating in Fort Hood Shooting Trial
Update: The jury in the court martial of Major Nidal Hasan has begun to deliberate. They're considering whether or not Hasan is guilty of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of premeditated attempted murder in the Fort Hood shooting in 2009.
During closing remarks, government lawyers boiled down 11 days of testimony into an hour and a half closing argument. They replayed tape from a 911 phone call, video of the shooting’s aftermath and the dashboard camera from the car of the police officers who responded to the shooting. They reviewed each victim, how many times they were shot, and the trajectory of the shots.
The prosecution says there are three ways to show premeditation: Planning and preparation, circumstances of the event and motive. They say Hasan prepared for the shooting by buying a high-tech weapon and laser sight, practicing on silhouette targets at a shooting range instead of bulls eyes, and giving away his possessions right before the attack During the shooting, prosecutors say Hasan only targeted soldiers in uniform and positioned himself in the building so soldiers couldn't escape.
As for motive, prosecutors argue Hasan had two: he didn’t want to deploy overseas and felt a quote "jihad duty” to kill as many soldiers as possible. They cited an article written by a Taliban leader that Hasan read online just before the shooting.
Meanwhile, Hasan did not give any closing argument. He's remained largely silent throughout the proceedings since his opening statements. He cross-examined three of 89 witnesses.
The 13 member panel must now go through all 45 counts of premeditated murder or attempted murder and decide of the prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Hasan committed those offenses. If they do not believe the prosecution proved the shootings were premeditated, the judge has given the panel a list of lesser charges they can also consider.
Nine of the 13 members of the military panel must agree for Hasan to be found guilty of each count. They must unanimously agree for him to receive the death penalty. In order to receive the death penalty, the jury only needs to unanimously find Hasan guilty of one count of premeditated murder and another count of murder by a two-thirds majority.
Whenever a guilty verdict is handed down, both sides say they are ready to begin sentencing the following day.
Original Post (8:51 a.m.): The jury in the court martial of Maj. Nidal Hasan – accused of killing 13 people and wounding more than 30 in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood in 2009 – will hear closing arguments today after more than two weeks of testimony.
The judge in the case is expected to give the jury instructions today on what to consider during their deliberations and then allow for closing arguments. Hasan is charged with premeditated murder. But if jurors don’t think the evidence proves that, they’ll be able consider a list of lesser charges, including voluntary manslaughter, unpremeditated murder, attempted unpremeditated murder or aggravated assault with intent to kill.
But at a hearing yesterday, Hasan argued the shooting wasn’t in the heat of passion and that jurors shouldn’t have the option to convict him of voluntary manslaughter. It’s one of the few times Hasan, who is representing himself, spoke throughout the trial. In his opening statement, he said the evidence would show he was the shooter. But since then, he’s remained mostly quiet. He only questioned three of nearly 90 witnesses and did not present a defense. Hasan’s assistant attorneys asked to be recused from his defense – arguing Hasan was seeking the death penalty to die a martyr.
Hasan could get the death penalty – but likely not before a lengthy appeals process.
It’s unclear how long the jury will take to consider the evidence. But experts do not expect a lengthy deliberation.