Judge Sets 2012 Trial Date In Fort Hood Shooting Case

A U.S. military judge Wednesday set a March 2012 court martial date for an Army psychiatrist charged in a 2009 killing rampage at a Texas military base.

Major Nidal Malik Hasan, 40, declined to enter a plea at an arraignment before Fort Hood Chief Circuit Judge Col. Gregory Gross. Gross granted a request by Hasan's attorneys to defer the plea to a later, unspecified date.

Gross set a trial date of March 5, 2012, for Hasan's court martial, where he could face the death penalty if unanimously convicted by a 12-member jury of U.S. soldiers.

Hasan, whom officials have said had links to a radical Muslim cleric in Yemen, is charged in the Fort Hood shootings that killed 13 people and wounded 32 others on Nov. 5, 2009.

Hasan appeared in the base's small courtroom in Army fatigues and a shaved head, and was wheelchair-bound after being paralyzed from the chest down by bullet wounds inflicted by civilian police officers during the shooting.

According to witnesses who testified at evidentiary hearings at Fort Hood in 2010, Hasan shouted "Allahu Akbar" -- Arabic for "God is Greatest" -- just before opening fire on a group of soldiers undergoing health checks before being deployed to war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If convicted, Hasan could face the death penalty. He would be the first American soldier to be executed in a U.S. military proceeding in over 50 years if the sentence is carried out.

Hasan would have the right to appeal any verdict delivered to several military and civilian courts -- including the U.S. Supreme Court -- a process that could take years, military justice experts said.

"Major Hasan stands a very good chance of being executed," said Eugene R. Fidell, who teaches military justice at Yale Law School. "The government won't have any difficulty in making him the trigger man."

Military executions are rare in the United States. The last was Army Private John Bennett, who was hanged in 1961 after being convicted of rape and attempted murder.

The U.S. president would also have to personally approve any execution before it is carried out.

The Fort Hood incident raised concerns over the threat of "homegrown" militant attacks. U.S. officials said Hasan had exchanged e-mails with Anwar al-Awlaki, an anti-American al Qaeda figure based in Yemen.

Fort Hood is a major deployment point for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.


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  • by Kimo Location: Belhaven on Jul 21, 2011 at 05:41 AM
    And now you see what's wrong with our "justice" system. There is absolutely no doubt as to whether he did it. He did!! The only other question that needs to be answered (and I'm not real sure why) is if he is not nuts. It's time we did something to our justice system to get people like this to the gallows (or whatever) within say 90 days of them having "done the deed". Of course that would leave a lot of lawyers crying foul. Some of them will lose out on ten or twelve years of retainers for defending this worthless piece of whatever...
  • by Mike Location: Edenton on Jul 21, 2011 at 03:39 AM
    Why does it take so long to bring someone like this to justice? This piece of garbage would be convicted with only a small portion of the evidence gathered that day. AND it will take another 10 years or more to carry out the obvious sentence.
  • by I Fought the Law on Jul 21, 2011 at 03:21 AM
    Well a 2-3 year delay in prosecuting is no surprise...par for the course from our lame useless good-for-nothing "justice" system. The guy is as guilty as it can get and should have already been hung or placed before a firing squad. Oh yeah with the public allowed free admission as well....sorry maggot gunning down our men and women of uniform.
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