FORT HOOD, Texas (KXAN) — In the weeks leading up to the trial for Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, there was an anticipation that the long delayed trial would last at least one month and possibly more.
But just 16 days after it began, the jury panel began their deliberations on Thursday afternoon.
In that time, they were presented mountains of evidence, witnesses, and testimony all while Hasan said very little. That trend continued during closing arguments on Thursday morning.
“It was not a combat load, but a kill load, because (Hasan) knew what he was going to do at station 13,” said prosecutor Col. Steve Henricks about the amount of ammo used in the attack. “A station he made his own personal kill station.”
The prosecution spent 90 minutes reminding the jury of the evidence in a closing statement that featured 911 calls, dash cam video, and crime scene pictures from the Nov. 5, 2009 attack.
When given his chance at a statement, Hasan once again decided to remain silent.
“The defense chooses not to make a closing statement,” said Hasan who spoke up Thursday outside of the panel’s presence to object to pictures of witnesses being included in a prosecution slideshow.
Judge Tara Osborn, an Army colonel, denied the objection and said the pictures served only to help members with their memory since they heard from 89 government witnesses.
The jury will have to consider each of the 45 counts against Hasan individually.
Thirteen of those charges are for premeditated murder, one for each victim that was killed. The other 32 are for attempted premeditated murder, one for each victim injured in the gunfire or fired upon.
The jury panel will also be given the opportunity to find Hasan guilty of the lesser included charge of unpremeditated murder and unpremeditated attempted murder.
Osborn defined premeditation to the jury as “the formation of specific intent to kill and consideration of the act intended to bring about death. The formation of that intent must precede the act that constitutes the attempt.”
The government spent much of their closing argument trying to prove that premeditation.
They pointed to Hasan’s visit to Guns Galore where he asked for the highest capacity handgun on the market along with trips to a local gun range where he used human silhouettes as targets rather than bullseyes.
The prosecution told the panel Hasan had two motivations that would prove premeditation; to stop from being deployed and to fight a jihad war against American soldiers.
Many people close to the trial believe a verdict will be returned on Friday, however the judge has indicated deliberations could take place on Saturday if needed.
A cot will also be brought to the courthouse for Hasan, who is bound to a wheelchair, to lay down while waiting for a verdict.
Military deliberations and verdict
The military panel system varies from the civilian system.Only a two-thirds vote is needed to find a suspect guilty of a given charge.
In the Hasan case, that means 9 of the 13 jurors will have to vote guilty to convict Hasan of a charge.That process will repeat itself for each of the 45 counts to be considered.
However, in order for the death penalty to become an option during the sentencing phase, the panel must reach a unanimous guilty finding on at least one premeditated murder charge in addition to at least one two-thirds guilty finding of murder, either premeditated or unpremeditated.
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