Fort Hood Gunman 'Dealt Death to Soldiers'

By: Michael Graczyk, Associated Press
By: Michael Graczyk, Associated Press

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) The Army psychiatrist convicted of shooting dead 13 people in the worst ever attack on a U.S. military base rejected his last chance Wednesday to give a closing argument before his case goes to a military panel that can give him death or life in prison without parole.

Nidal Hasan has done nothing to argue against a death sentence, and the court-appointed lawyers on standby to help him say his ultimate goal is martyrdom.

Hasan was convicted last week in the 2009 rampage at the Texas military post, in which more than 30 people were wounded.

A military prosecutor on Wednesday said Hasan deserves to be executed, saying he "dealt death to soldiers." Mike Mulligan told jurors that Hasan was a trained doctor yet had no compassion when he opened fire on unarmed soldiers.

Prosecutors have described the U.S.-born Muslim's motive as a "jihad duty" under his Islamic faith.

Through media leaks and statements to the judge, Hasan has tried to justify the attack as a way to protect Islamic leaders from U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was blocked from giving that argument to jurors during his trial.

Hasan, who has chosen to defend himself, has dismissed his standby attorneys as "overzealous."

The judge is "in a tough situation, no matter what happens," said Victor Hansen, a military law expert at the New England School of Law, in an interview earlier this month. "At the end of the day, the defendant has the absolute right to decide who's going to represent him, including deciding to represent himself."

Prosecutors want Hasan to join just five other U.S. service members currently on military death row. That would require a unanimous decision by the jury of 13 military officers, and prosecutors must prove an aggravating factor and present evidence to show the severity of Hasan's crimes.

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