- (Photo: Reuters/Bell County Sheriff's Office/Handout)
Nidal Malik Hasan, a 42-year-old U.S. born Muslim, was convicted on Friday of 13 charges of premeditated murder and 32 charges of attempted murder in an attack at the Fort Hood Army post in Texas in November 2009, and now faces a possible death penalty.
Hasan acted as his own defense lawyer, the Washington Post reported, and was convicted by a 13-member panel of senior officers. A former major who served as a psychiatrist in the army, Hasan was paralyzed from the chest down after being shot by a civilian police officer, which stopped the attack. He apparently admitted to the killings during the trial, saying that he had "switched sides."
The prosecutor reminded the panel that right before the shooting, Hasan had shouted "Allahu Akbar!" – Arabic for "God is great!"
The sentencing phase of the trial now begins on Monday, BBC News reported, where a 13-member panel will have to unanimously decide on whether they agree with the judge's decision to sentence the former major to death. If they do not agree, Hasan will face life in prison.
It would be the first U.S. military execution of an active duty soldier since 1961, though there are five inmates currently on the military's death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
The former major has explained that he carried out the deadly attack in order to protect Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, though he was not allowed to present that argument in court. Prosecutors noted that Hasan had prepared for the attack for weeks by buying a gun and practicing on a range.
The trial turned out to be shorter than many people expected, lasting only two weeks, largely because Hasan chose to question only three of the nearly 90 witnesses for the prosecution. He also raised almost no objections and did not seem to fight the conviction, though some military legal experts said he might try to avoid the death penalty during sentencing.