Closing Arguments Begin Thursday In Fort Hood Shooting Trial

The court martial of Army Major Nidal Hasan is heading into its final phases at Fort Hood in Texas. Hasan has elected to offer no defense. Closing arguments begin Thursday morning, and then the case is set to go to the jury. Hasan faces the death penalty, accused of massacring 13 people and shooting 32 others.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And closing arguments will begin this morning in the trial of Major Nidal Hasan at Fort Hood, Texas. Hasan faces the death penalty. He's accused of killing 13 people and shooting 32 others.

From Killeen, Texas, here's NPR's Wade Goodwyn.

WADE GOODWIN, BYLINE: The defense rests. With those three words, Major Nidal Hasan put an end to his non-existent defense case. It was a case he never wanted to make, anyway. He began the trial by wishing to plead guilty to the charges, but military law prohibits that in death penalty cases.

His lawyers - bound by their oaths to the court to defend Hasan to their best abilities - complained that they wanted off the case because Hasan was actively seeking the death penalty.

The major has conceded in court that the evidence proved he was the shooter, and in letters he wrote to the Killeen newspaper, he explained that he attacked his defenseless colleagues because he had switched sides. Hasan told military psychiatrists after the shootings that he'd wanted to die in the attack, and believed he would still be a martyr to the Islamic cause if executed.

And so Hasan has sat mostly silent as 89 witnesses took the stand. The fear that the victims might be aggressively cross-examined by the alleged perpetrator never materialized.

The major now gets one last chance to make his case that he acted in the defense of the Taliban and al-Qaida leaders. Then, 13 senior officers will decide his fate.

Wade Goodwyn, NPR News, Killeen, Texas.

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