Fort Hood Shooter Sentenced To Death Penalty

A jury has sentenced Nidal Hasan to the death penalty for a shooting rampage at Fort Hood that left 13 people dead and 31 others injured.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

At Fort Hood in Texas, today, a military jury sentenced former Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan to death for a 2009 shooting spree. Thirteen people died and 31 others were injured when Hasan began firing at an Army processing center. He claimed he did it to protect the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Mose Buchele, of member station KUT, joins us now to discuss the trial's outcome. And, Mose, what happened in court today before the jury announced its sentence?

MOSE BUCHELE, BYLINE: Well, what we heard today was the last chance for both the prosecution team and the defense to deliver the closing arguments. And then the jury received instructions and went off to deliberate. The prosecutors did deliver a closing argument that was quite emotional and lengthy, outlining the crimes that were committed, the circumstances of each of the victims - each of the people who were killed, and also getting a little bit into the kind of the human cost to their families and those who they left behind.

When it came time for Hasan, who was representing himself in this case, to deliver his closing argument he did what more or less he'd been doing all along - which is he didn't say much of anything.

SIEGEL: Did he speak at all?

BUCHELE: He just - all he said was that he did not want to deliver a closing argument.

SIEGEL: Now, there hasn't been a lot of suspense in this case. On the first day of the court-martial, Major Hasan admitted to everything. Today was the only moment where the outcome was in doubt. What was it like in court?

BUCHELE: Yeah, it was rather fascinating because, as you say, he said all along that he did it. The question was whether or not he was going to get life in prison or whether he was going to receive the death penalty. And this came up in the prosecution's closing argument because there was a question about whether or not jurors who may otherwise have wanted to deliver the death penalty, would do that if they imagined that Hasan wanted the death penalty.

Which is to say he seemed very prepared to be a martyr, I guess, in this incident. And so, whether or not to give him the death penalty was to actually deliver to him what he was seeking. And the prosecution team spent a lot of time trying to convince jurors that the death penalty was warranted and to kind of - to get them away from that idea.

SIEGEL: So he got the death penalty. What happens next in this case?

BUCHELE: What happens next is an appeals process. Under military rules, even if the defendant doesn't seek an appeal, there's going to be a review by a military board. And I'm told here that that could well last four years at minimum. Even if Hasan does not seek any form of appeal there will be this lengthy review process. And then after that, it could be that he would be the first person to be put to death by a military court since, you know, in decades - since the 1960s.

SIEGEL: Well, thank you, Mose, for that report.

Mose Buchele is a reporter from member station KUT in Austin. And he joined us from Fort Hood, Texas, where today a military jury sentenced Major Nidal Hasan to death for the 2009 shootings at Fort Hood.

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