FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — Military prosecutors asked jurors on Thursday to unanimously convict the soldier accused in the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, insisting that evidence left "no doubt" that he planned and carried out the deadliest mass shooting ever on a U.S. military base.
Such a verdict would allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty against Maj. Nidal Hasan. The Army psychiatrist is facing numerous counts of premeditated murder for the attack that killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 others at the Army post in central Texas.
The prosecutor, Col. Steve Henricks, repeatedly emphasized the word "premeditation," trying to dissuade the jury — 13 high-ranking military officers — of even considering a conviction on a lesser charge that would take the death penalty off the table.
"There's no doubt the evidence you heard in this case shows he committed the offense," Henricks said.
Henricks said Hasan asked for the highest-tech weapon available when he went to a gun store a few months before the Nov. 5, 2009 attack, and he soon began practicing at a gun range. Hasan also used laser sights, which Henricks said "established intent to kill."
The prosecutor noted that the shootings, which started inside a medical building crowded with soldiers preparing to deploy, came the same day Hasan's unit was at that building. Hasan was assigned to soon join the unit in Afghanistan on a six-month tour.
The last of nearly 90 witnesses to testify for prosecutors had said Hasan told her shortly before the shooting, without prompting, that the Army would "pay" if he were ever ordered deployed overseas.
"Some things speak for themselves. It doesn't require any evidence — because it's no coincidence — that the accused did his crime on Five November," Henricks told jurors.
Henricks also noted that Hasan targeted soldiers, leaving most civilians unscathed. After Hasan fled the medical building, and civilians outside asked him what was going on, "he tells them it's a paintball gun. It's a training exercise. He's keeping his wits about him even after what happened," Henricks said.
Hasan is acting as his own attorney but has done little to defend himself during his 13-day trial. He rested his case Wednesday without calling a single witness or testifying in his own defense, and it wasn't clear Thursday whether he planned to give a closing argument.
He gave a brief opening statement in which he acknowledged that evidence would "clearly show" he was the shooter, and he described himself as a soldier who had "switched sides." He also presented only a single piece of evidence: an evaluation from his boss that called him a good soldier.
However, Hasan perked up Wednesday when talking about what he said the evidence didn't show: that the attack was somehow impulsive.
"I would like to agree with the prosecution that it wasn't done under the heat of sudden passion," Hasan told the judge after jurors had left for the day. "There was adequate provocation — that these were deploying soldiers that were going to engage in an illegal war."
Hasan, an American-born Muslim, has been unapologetic about saying the rampage was necessary to protect Muslim insurgents abroad from American soldiers preparing for combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. But most of his arguments have played out through leaks to the media or directly to the judge, so they couldn't be considered by the jury.
The jury was expected to get the case later Thursday.
Associated Press writer Will Weissert contributed to this report from Fort Hood.
Follow Paul J. Weber on Twitter: www.twitter.com/pauljweber
- Crime & Justice
- Politics & Government
- Nidal Hasan
- Fort Hood