An earlier report said that his attorneys were asking that he be spared the death penalty because the first judge committed the egregious offense of commanding that he be held to army regulations and his beard be shaved. "Fort Hood suspect still faces possible execution," by Angela K. Brown for the Associated Press, January 30 (thanks to all who sent this in):
FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) -- The Army psychiatrist charged in the Fort Hood shooting rampage still faces the death penalty if convicted in the worst mass shooting on a U.S. military installation, a judge ruled Wednesday.
The judge, Col. Tara Osborn, was expected to rule later on Maj. Nidal Hasan's request to plead guilty to 13 counts of premeditated murder in the 2009 attack on the Texas Army post. However, Army rules prohibit a judge from accepting a guilty plea in a death penalty case, so her earlier ruling Wednesday indicates he would not be allowed to plead guilty as long as that punishment option remains on the table.
Defense attorneys argued that Hasan should be spared a possible death sentence because the military justice system's process for deciding capital cases is inconsistent. They also claim Fort Hood's commanding general was not impartial when he decided in July 2011 that Hasan would face the death penalty and had been influenced by high-ranking government officials.
Hasan, 42, paralyzed from the waist down after being shot by police the day of the rampage, sat in a wheelchair next to his attorneys with a thick black beard during the first of three scheduled days of pretrial proceedings.
The American-born Muslim also is charged with 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder. He faces execution or life in military prison without parole if convicted. A trial date has not been set.
Witnesses have said that a gunman wearing an Army combat uniform opened fire after shouting "Allahu Akbar!" - or "God is great!" in Arabic - inside a crowded medical building on Nov. 5, 2009, where deploying and returning soldiers received vaccines and other tests. Hasan was also about to deploy to Afghanistan.
Hasan's trial was to start in August but was put on hold when he appealed the former judge's order saying his beard would be forcibly shaved before the court-martial unless he shaved it. Although facial hair violates Army rules, Hasan first showed up in court in June with a beard, later saying it was required by his Muslim faith....
He murdered 13 people because of his Muslim faith. It should not be given any special accommodation.