Fort Hood shooter wants death penalty, lawyer says
A U.S. Army psychiatrist who admitted shooting dozens of soldiers at a Texas base was attempting in his court-martial self defense to receive the death penalty, a lawyer on his standby legal team told the judge on Wednesday.
Military Judge Colonel Tara Osborn ended the court proceedings for the rest of the day to consider the lawyer’s motion to seek a reduced role in the case of Major Nidal Hasan, the U.S.-born Muslim who killed 13 soldiers and wounded 32 others in November 2009.
The lawyer, Lieutenant Colonel Kris Poppe said he believed Hasan wanted the death penalty based on documents sent to Fox News by Hasan through a civilian attorney, Hasan’s questions for potential jurors during the jury selection process, and Hasan’s opening statement on Tuesday, when he told the jury, “I was the shooter.”
The standby defense team wants to avoid being forced by the court to help Hasan achieve the death penalty, calling such a goal “repugnant to defense counsel and contrary to what our professional obligations are.”
Hasan was “encouraging or working toward the death penalty,” Poppe told the judge.
Hasan disputed the lawyer’s assertion, calling it “a twist of the facts.” He also said, “I don’t think it’s what you think it is.”
The exchange took place without the presence of the 13-member jury of military officers.
Hasan acts as his own lawyer with a military defense team on standby to ensure his case is handled properly.
Hasan previously offered to plead guilty in return for being spared the death penalty, but the judge rejected that request based on the military’s policy against allowing such pleas in capital cases.
He faces 13 charges of premeditated murder and 32 charges of attempted premeditated murder. The dead were 12 active duty soldiers and a retired chief warrant officer who worked as a civilian employee at the base.