News / USA

Fort Hood Shooter Rests Case

In this courtroom sketch, Maj. Nidal Hasan, right, appears at the Lawrence William Judicial Center during the sentencing phase of his trial, Aug. 27, 2013, in Fort Hood, Texas.
In this courtroom sketch, Maj. Nidal Hasan, right, appears at the Lawrence William Judicial Center during the sentencing phase of his trial, Aug. 27, 2013, in Fort Hood, Texas.
Greg Flakus
— In the punishment phase of the Fort Hood massacre trial at the military base in Texas Tuesday, Major Nidal Hasan rested without presenting witnesses or making a statement.  Last week, Hasan was convicted of murdering 13 people in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood on November 5, 2009.  After summation statements Wednesday, the decision on whether to apply the death penalty will be in the hands of the 13-member jury.  

After prosecutors concluded their presentation of witnesses who had lost loved ones or been wounded by Nidal Hasan, they rested their case.  It was then Hasan's turn to either bring forth witnesses or make a statement.  As he has done in other stages of the trial, the defendant, who is serving as his own lawyer, rested his case immediately and said no more.

Presiding Judge Colonel Tara Osborn dismissed the jury and then questioned Hasan thoroughly to make sure he understood the implications of his decision.  

Geoffrey Corn, a former military prosecutor who now teaches at the South Texas College of Law in Houston, says the judge's effort will make a later appeal less likely and ensure that Hasan has voluntarily accepted the risks involved in his decisions.

"Judge Osborn does not have an interest in making sure that the case stands up on appeal; she has an interest in making sure that the defendant is fully appraised of his constitutional and statutory rights and is able to exercise them voluntarily," he said.

By refusing to speak, Hasan gave up his last opportunity to present evidence or any kind of argument to the jury.  Corn says Hasan, motivated by his belief in radical, jihadist Islam, believes murdering 13 people and wounding more than 30 others was justified.

"I think what he is doing is expressing passively his disdain for the army and his disdain for the military justice system, by doing nothing," he said.

On Wednesday, the prosecution will give its closing summation of the evidence supporting the death penalty for Hasan, rather than life in prison.  At that point, Hasan will have an opportunity to present a closing summation, but since he has presented no evidence, Geoffrey Corn says Hasan most likely will say nothing.

The jury, or panel as it is known in military law, does not have a lot of evidence to go through, as it did in the first phase of the trial, but Corn says the 13 panel members will consider the question carefully.

"There isn't a whole lot of evidence to review, but they have to each, individually decide whether to put a human being to death and, I think, that is a big deal," he said. "I think, morally and legally, it should be hard.  These are people who understand life and death, perhaps better than most of us ever will, because of their profession, and I think they are going to take it very seriously."   

To impose the death penalty in a military capital murder case, the jurors must make a unanimous decision. Corn says he does not expect a very quick decision, but thinks a verdict is likely by late afternoon.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid