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Nation/World

August 29, 2013

Army psychiatrist gets death for Fort Hood shootings

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Hasan could become the first American soldier executed in more than half a century. But because the military justice system requires a lengthy appeals process, years or even decades could pass before he is put to death.

He was expected to be taken on the next available flight to the military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.

In his final plea for a death sentence, the lead prosecutor assured jurors that Hasan would "never be a martyr" despite his attempt to tie the attack to religion.

"He is a criminal. He is a cold-blooded murderer," Col. Mike Mulligan said. "This is not his gift to God. This is his debt to society. This is the cost of his murderous rampage."

Since the attack, the federal government has sought to execute Hasan, believing that any sentence short of a lethal injection would deny justice to the families of the dead and the survivors who had believed they were safe behind the gates of Fort Hood, about 70 miles north of Austin.

And for just as long, Hasan seemed content to go to the death chamber for his beliefs. He fired his own attorneys to represent himself, barely mounted a defense during the three-week trial and made almost no effort to have his life spared.

Mulligan reminded the jury that Hasan was a trained doctor yet opened fire on defenseless comrades. Hasan "only dealt death," the prosecutor said, so the only appropriate sentence was death.

Hasan was never allowed to argue in front of the jury that the shooting was necessary to protect Islamic and Taliban leaders. But during the trial, he leaked documents to journalists that revealed he told military mental health workers in 2010 that he could "still be a martyr" if executed by the government.

When Hasan began shooting, soldiers were standing in long lines inside a medical building to receive immunizations and doctors' clearance. Many of the soldiers were preparing to deploy, while others had recently returned home.

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