Hasan found guilty in Fort Hood massacre


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FORT HOOD, Texas -- Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan was convicted Friday on all 45 charges of premeditated and attempted premeditated murder in the shooting rampage at this central Texas Army post four years ago, the deadliest attack on a domestic U.S. military base.

The former Army psychiatrist now faces a possible death sentence.

The military jury of 13 officers deliberated about six hours on the case, ending a two-week trial in which Maj. Hasan represented himself, admitted to the shooting and largely declined to present a defense.

Prosecutors argued that the radical religious beliefs of Maj. Hasan, an American-born Muslim, led him to attack deploying soldiers. Witnesses testified that he shouted "Allahu akbar," or "God is great" in Arabic, before he opened fire at a medical processing center.

The shooting Nov. 5, 2009, left 13 dead and more than 30 wounded, many of whom testified about the carnage during the court-martial. Maj. Hasan, 42, faced 13 charges of premeditated murder and 32 charges of attempted premeditated murder.

The same jury that convicted Maj. Hasan will sentence him, with pre-sentencing hearings set to begin Monday. In order for him to receive the death penalty, the jury's vote on that punishment must be unanimous. Relatives of those killed in the shootings are expected to testify at the hearings.

Before the jury delivered the guilty verdicts Friday, a few tense minutes of anticipation gripped the courtroom. The military judge, Col. Tara Osborn, cautioned those in the audience "to keep the proper decorum and show the respect for the judicial system and for the court," acknowledging that a verdict "can provoke powerful emotions." She told those in the gallery -- including victims' relatives -- to leave if they could not resist showing signs of "agreement or disagreement with the panel's findings."

Everyone stayed.

Maj. Hasan remained impassive as the verdict was read, then looked down.

Victims' relatives sitting in three rows of the gallery remained quiet as the verdict was read. Afterward, there were small signs of emotion -- one placed a hand on another's shoulder, another slipped on sunglasses to hide her tears. Many had tears in their eyes as they left the court.

Kimberly Munley, a Fort Hood police sergeant who was wounded when she traded gunfire with Maj. Hasan and who testified during the trial, tweeted her joy at the verdict. "So overwhelmed with joy and tears!!!! ... God Bless the victims in their strength," she wrote.

Sgt. Munley and other victims have sued the government in federal court in an attempt to classify the attack as terrorism.

An attorney representing them released a statement calling the verdict "only a first, small step down the path of justice for the victims. The terrorist Hasan's conviction and sentencing is only the beginning, not the end of this story," Reed Rubinstein said. "Justice for the victims of Fort Hood will be done only when the government admits its mistakes, keeps its promises to 'make the victims whole' and comes clean about Ft. Hood. The victims, and the American people, are owed nothing less."

Later Friday, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, released a statement siding with the victims. "The victims and families have had to wait for far too long for today's decision, but I hope they can take some relief in today's outcome," he said, adding, "We must turn our attention to ensuring that the victims of this horrible tragedy and their families receive the full honors and benefits bestowed upon soldiers who are wounded or killed in overseas combat zones."

Texas Gov. Rick Perry said in statement, "This guilty verdict affirms we are a nation of laws, honors the victims of this heinous act and proves that, even in the face of unspeakable tragedy, we will never waver from the core principles for which they gave their lives: freedom, liberty and democracy."

Retired Army Sgt. Howard Ray, 33, of Killeen, who received an Army Commendation Medal for carrying nine people to safety during the shootings, said he was pleased with the verdict but eager to see Maj. Hasan sentenced to death.

Mr. Ray also said he was glad that some victims would be able to "have the last say" by speaking directly to Maj. Hasan before he is sentenced. "What's important for us to focus on is the sentencing," he said. "Hopefully, we'll be able to get justice then as well."

nation


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