Thursday, August 22, 2013

Former Army shrink declined to make final argument

An artist's depiction of the prosecution's final argument in U.S. v. Nidal Malik Hasan

Ft. Hood – Jurors received the case against Major Nidal Malik Hasan after lunch when court reconvened at 1:45 p.m. CST. During their deliberations, the accused will be allowed to recline on a cot placed in the well of the courtroom, the judge hearing the case ordered. He is paralyzed from the chest down.

The accused declined to deliver a final argument after a prosecutor, Col. Steven Henricks, made a masterful presentation of evidence and testimony that he said boiled down a a few key elements.

“There is no doubt,” he told a panel of 13 fellow field grade senior officers, of the accused officer's premeditation in the deadly shooting of 13 persons who were all dressed in the Army's combat uniform on Nov. 5, 2009.

He asked for a unanimous verdict of guilty on all 13 specifications of premeditated murder and 32 of attempted preditated murder because Maj. Hasan chose to make his deadly assault on that particular day knowing that two Army Reserve units with whom he was scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan would be there.

Only a unanimous verdict of guilt will clear the way for a sentence of death by lethal injection.

He proceeded to outline more than 20 elements that he said proves premeditation, including the fact that the pistol he used was chosen for both a high degree of accuracy and a high capacity of rounds, that it was equipped with two laser sights that shone beams of both red and green so that it would contrast with the green fabric of Army combat fatigues, and on a clipboard he carried his medical records and a “green sheet” that detailed the complement of soldiers who would be in Building 42003 of the Soldier Readiness Program for inoculations, tests and updates to their records as a “subterfuge.”

“It doesn't require any evidence because it's no coincidence,” he declared during his two-hour presentation that meticulously detailed three elements of proof, including preparation for the attack, witness testimony, and evidence of his motives for his murderous actions.

They are two-fold, he told the panel. First, he did not want to deploy to the combat zone in Afghanistan. He recalled witness testimony that established he had said that if he was deployed, “They will pay.”

Secondly, he reminded jurors that he shouted “Allahu akbar” at the outset of his attack and said that is prima facie evidence that rather than take the saturation approach of a suicide bomber, he chose the more surgical approach of one who acts on the instruction of a fatwa, displaying “an intent to become a smart bomb.”

Earlier, the Army Judge, Col. Tara Osborn, instructed the jurors that both direct and circumstantial evidence is sufficient to convict on any of the specifications, but that if less than a majority of 9 votes are cast for guilt, they must consider lesser charges of unpremeditated murder or aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in the case of those whom the accused only wounded.

A unanimous vote of guilt in at least two of the specifications of premeditated murder is required to assess the death penalty. will follow the case through its sentencing phase.

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