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August 23, 2013

US Army Psychiatrist Guilty in 2009 Fort Hood Shooting Rampage

A U.S. Army psychiatrist has been convicted of intentionally killing 13 fellow soldiers in the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas and now faces a possible death penalty.

A jury of 13 military officers found Major Nidal Hasan guilty Friday of the premeditated murder of the military personnel as they were being readied for deployment to U.S. battlefronts in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was also found guilty of the intentional wounding of another 32 people.

The American-born Muslim says he had "switched sides" on the two U.S. wars and carried out the assault to keep the Fort Hood personnel from being sent to fight Muslim insurgents overseas. The jury deliberated over parts of two days before returning guilty verdicts on all 45 charges he faced.

Starting on Monday, the same jury will deliberate his sentence, which could include death by lethal injection.

The jury heard about 90 witnesses testify over the last two weeks that Hasan methodically fired at soldiers in a medical center on the military base.

A military prosecutor, Colonel Steve Hendricks, said in his closing argument Thursday that Hasan decided to make the center his "personal kill zone" during the shooting spree. Hendricks said Hasan "without a doubt -- without any doubt at all -- had a premeditated design to kill."

The jurors had little to consider from Hasan, who acted as his own defense attorney. He passed up a chance to make an end-of-trial statement to the jury deciding his fate, presented no witnesses on his behalf during the trial and declined to testify himself.

His legal advisers at one point in the trial said that Hasan was doing so little in the courtroom to contest the charges because they felt that he wanted to be convicted of premeditated murder so he could receive a death sentence.

In a brief opening statement at the trial, Hasan said the evidence at the trial would "clearly show" that he was the shooter.

During a hearing earlier this week, Hasan told the judge presiding over the case that his attack was motivated by what he considered "an illegal war" and that he had "adequate provocation" because the soldiers he shot were headed overseas to fight Muslims.