A military jury unanimously condemned Nidal Malik Hasan to death by lethal injection tonight for killing 13 people and wounding more than 30 in a shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009.
The panel of 13 officers deliberated for little more than two hours before handing down the decision. Dissent by even a single juror would have led to Major Hasan, an army psychiatrist, being sentenced to life in prison. Dressed in his military fatigues, he did not display any emotion as the jury's spokeswoman said the panel of nine colonels, three lieutenant colonels and a major had agreed on the death penalty.
The same group of officers last week found Hasan, who opted to represent himself during his court martial, guilty of more than 40 counts of murder and attempted murder.
The shootings occurred in November 2009, when Hasan opened fire at a medical facility within the Fort Hood military base where soldiers due to be deployed to Afghanistan were making preparations. Shouting “Allahu akbar!”, or “God is great”, he opened fire with a high-capacity handgun. In his opening statement, Hasan, an American-born Muslim, said he had decided to switch sides in what he said was America's war on Islam. He did not call any witnesses in his defence, nor did he take the stand to testify or make a closing statement.
The sentence will make Hasan, who in the past has expressed a desire to be a Muslim martyr, the sixth US soldier on death row at the military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. It has been over half a century since a member of the US armed forces was last executed.
The appeals process means that Hasan could spend many years in prison before being put to death. His execution would require the approval of the sitting President.
The lead prosecutor in the Hasan case, Col Mike Mulligan, had earlier called for a death sentence, saying Hasan would “never be a martyr”. “He is a criminal. He is a cold-blooded murderer,” he said. “This is not his gift to God. This is his debt to society. This is the cost of his murderous rampage.”
Of the 13 people killed in the attack, 12 were soldiers.