Army Maj. Nadal Hasan, the accused Fort Hood shooter whose trial entered closing arguments today, seems poised to become the first person to receive the death penalty from the military
in more than half a century.
It may be exactly what he wants.
Representing himself, he rested his case earlier this week without calling a single witness or presenting any evidence in his own defence.
“He thinks he’s going to be a martyr,” Seth G. Jones, an expert on Islamic extremism, said to CNN.
Hasan faces 45 charges of murder and attempted murder for walking into a military medical facility at the U.S. Army base at Fort Hood, Texas in 2009 and opening fire.
Prosecutors have contended that he specifically targeted uniformed service members, alleging that the American-born Muslim gradually grew radicalized and even contacted a top al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, Anwar al Awlaki.
Hasan has presented little to no evidence in his own defence. In a brief opening statement, he admitted that evidence would show that he was the shooter and described himself as a soldier who had “switched sides” in a war.
The defence lawyers tasked with helping him submit his defence tried to quit and said that defending Hasan is tantamount to helping him commit suicide, according to CNN.
They were ordered by the judge to proceed.
“We believe your order is causing us to violate our professional ethics. It’s morally repugnant to us as defence counsel,” Lt. Col. Kris Poppe, head of Hasan’s legal team, told the judge.
And so with prosecutors seeking the death penalty, Hasan seemingly wanting it, and his own hesitant defence counsel thinking things are headed there, it appears likely Hasan could be the first military convict to be put to death since 1961.
“I think Maj. Hasan may very well be the first military defendant in a long time to be put to death,” Geoffery Corn, a professor at South Texas College of Law and a military law expert, told CNN.
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