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Ft. Hood shootings: Closing arguments expected in sentencing hearing

August 28, 2013|By Molly Hennessy-Fiske
  • Prosecutors Col. Mike Mulligan, left, and Col. Steve Henricks leave the Lawrence William Judicial Center at Ft. Hood, Texas, after the second day of the sentencing phase in the trial for Maj. Nidal Hasan.
Prosecutors Col. Mike Mulligan, left, and Col. Steve Henricks leave the… (Eric Gay / Associated Press )

FT. HOOD, Texas -- Closing arguments are expected Wednesday in the sentencing of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the convicted gunman in the deadliest attack on a domestic U.S. military base.

Hasan, 42, was convicted of of premeditated murder last week in connection with the Nov. 5, 2009, shootings here that killed 13 people and wounded more than 30.

He faces a potential death sentence.

The Army psychiatrist has defended himself at sentencing, as he did at his trial. However, he has refused to make a statement, call witnesses or submit evidence during about four weeks of testimony. Prosecutors, by contrast, called more than 100 witnesses and submitted more than 700 pieces of evidence.

On Tuesday, the judge in the case, Col. Tara Osborn, urged Hasan to reconsider his course of action, as she did during the trial. Hasan declined, saying he willingly waived his right to submit evidence that might persuade the military jury to give him a life sentence instead of the death penalty.

His team of military legal advisors appealed to the judge and, over Hasan’s objections, tried to submit evidence sympathetic to his case. But the judge sided with Hasan, saying the right of self-representation is constitutional and “cannot be impinged upon.”

When Osborn asked Hasan why he decided not to submit evidence or call witnesses, including an expert on religious conversion and a lawyer who specializes in helping those facing the death penalty, he cited “a personal reason.”

“Is that personal reason a tactical one?” Osborn asked, and Hasan said it was.

Osborn appeared to be reading to Hasan from military legal guidelines, protecting the case against future appeals.

“Are you freely and voluntarily choosing not to provide the evidence they developed for you?” she said of the experts.

“That is correct,” Hasan replied.

The judge asked Hasan to return Wednesday with a list of factors that might lessen, or mitigate, his sentence.

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