Fort Hood, Texas (CNN) — A military jury on Wednesday recommended the death penalty for convicted Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan, for the 2009 massacre on the Army base that left 13 people dead and 32 others wounded.
The 13-member panel deliberated for 2½ hours, and the president of the jury — or foreman– announced the finding in open court with a clear voice, that Hasan “be put to death.”
The convicted killer said nothing as the decision was announced, and had appeared emotionless earlier in the morning when dramatic closing arguments in the sentencing phased were held without his participation.
Hasan serves as his own attorney and his refusal to mount a vigorous defense, or to offer any mitigating evidence to blunt a capital sentence, may have made the panel’s unanimous decision less complicated or agonizing.
The judge quickly accepted the verdict, and the matter now goes to the “convening authority” — an Army general who will review the four-week court-martial proceedings and make the binding decision whether to accept the guilty verdict and capital sentence. It is a process that could take a few more months, and only then will the verdicts become official.
The convening authority has the option of reducing the sentence to life in prison without parole. The defendant will then have the right to appeal through the military justice system.
Hasan will at some point be transferred to military death row in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to join five other condemned prisoners. The president of the United States would sign any death warrant, and the execution would take place at a federal correctional facility in Terre Haute, Indiana.
The 13-member panel of senior officers heard 45 minutes of emotional closing arguments from the government, but Hasan, as he has throughout much of the proceedings, offered no justification or explanation, saying only, “I have no closing statement.”
The prosecution lawyer presented personal vignettes of all 13 victims killed and urged the panel to ignore Hasan’s earlier statement that he was willing to die in custody as a “martyr” for his faith.
“He will never be a martyr, because he has nothing to give,” Col. Michael Mulligan said in an even voice. “He is a criminal, a cold-blooded murderer. He is not giving his life; we are taking his life.”
Inside the courtroom, widows and mothers wiped tears from their eyes throughout. Hasan remained emotionless, looking mainly at photos of victims on his monitor during closing, occasionally glancing at Mulligan addressing the panel.
He stroked his beard and wiped his nose repeatedly with a tissue.
Outside of brief comments at the beginning of the court-martial four weeks ago, where he admitted being the lone gunman that left 13 people dead and 31 others wounded, the defendant has not put on much of a case.