28 September 2023 :
September 9, 2023 - Death penalty upheld for soldier who killed 13 in base shooting
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces delivered a unanimous decision to uphold the death penalty conviction of ex-Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, who killed 13 people and wounded dozens of others at then-Fort Hood, Texas.
On Nov. 5, 2009, Hasan walked into a readiness processing center and opened fire with a semi-automatic handgun. 13 people, including a pregnant soldier, died in the barrage. At his court-martial, Hasan admitted to the shooting, and he was sentenced to death. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces rejected Hasan’s motion to reverse his death sentence after not finding enough merits to his arguments to grant his motion.
“After carefully considering his raised issues and the record, we conclude that Appellant is not entitled to any relief. We therefore affirm the judgment of the lower court,” the court’s opinion read. The court then went on to reject each of his arguments.
The case also presents an issue for President Joe Biden, who campaigned as an anti-death penalty candidate. Unlike a civilian court’s ruling, the president must “personally, affirmatively” sign off on a military execution.
Hasan is one of four former service members on military death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. President George W. Bush signed off on the execution of ex-soldier Ronald Gray, but an execution of the serial rapist and murderer is unlikely in the near future due to the case becoming a legal roller coaster. Others who previously sat on military death row had their death sentences reduced by President Barack Obama during his final days in office.
The U.S. government has not executed a member of the armed forces since 1961, when Army Pvt. John Bennett was executed for rape and murder, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. In 1983, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces ruled in U.S. v Matthews that military death penalty sentences were unconstitutional. Then-President Ronald Reagan reinstated the practice after outlining detailed standards for military death penalty sentences.