FORT HOOD, Texas: The military jury deciding the fate of US Army Major Nidal Hasan was slated yesterday to begin deliberations on whether he should be sentenced to death for the November 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas.
The same jury of 13 officers convicted Hasan of killing 13 people and wounding 31 others, most of them unarmed soldiers, at the central Texas base.
Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, declined to make any statement nor present any evidence in his defense on Tuesday, ahead of the deliberations.
“The defense rests,” said Hasan, who has acted as his own attorney.
The jury can decide to sentence him to death or to life in prison. If the jury unanimously recommends death, Hasan could face lethal injection, possibly making him the first US soldier to be executed by the US military since 1961.
Hasan said in his opening statement on August 6 that he was the gunman and that he had switched sides in what he considered to be a US war on Islam.
He opened fire at the base on November 5, 2009, just weeks before he was to be deployed to Afghanistan.
Standby defence attorneys for Hasan attempted on Tuesday to present so-called mitigating evidence to argue for a life sentence, instead of the death penalty, including details on his background, family life, education, military experience and logs of his behaviour in jail.
“If no one makes a case for life, there is only death,” said Lieutenant Colonel Kris Poppe, one of the attorneys assigned to Hasan’s case.
But Hasan objected to the effort on his behalf, telling Judge Colonel Tara Osborn he had “overzealous defense counsel.”
The judge ruled in Hasan’s favor, saying he should be allowed to control his side of the case.
“Major Hasan is the captain of his own ship,” the judge said after repeatedly reminding Hasan that he could mount a stronger defence of his life.