Soldier guilty of murder for Fort Hood shootings

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — Army Maj. Nidal

Hasan was convicted Friday for the deadly 2009 shooting rampage at Fort

Hood, a shocking

assault against American troops at home by one of their own who

said he opened fire on fellow soldiers to protect Muslim insurgents

abroad.

A jury of 13 high-ranking military officers reached a unanimous guilty verdict on all charges — 13 counts of premeditated

murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder — in about seven hours. Hasan is now eligible for the death penalty.

Hasan stared at the jury with no visible reaction as the verdict was read. After he and jurors left the courtroom, some victims

who survived the attack and victims' relatives began to cry.

The Army psychiatrist acknowledged carrying out the attack in a crowded waiting room where unarmed troops were making final

preparations to deploy to Afghanistan and Iraq. Thirteen people were killed and more than were 30 wounded.

Because Hasan never denied his actions, the court-martial was always less about a conviction than it was about ensuring he

received the death penalty. From the beginning of the case, the federal government has sought to execute Hasan, believing

that any sentence short of a lethal injection would deprive the military and the families of the dead of the justice they

have sought for nearly four years.

Autumn Manning, whose husband, retired staff

Sgt. Shawn Manning, was shot six times during the attack, said Friday

that she

had been crying since the verdict was read. She said she'd been

concerned that some charges might be lessened to manslaughter,

which would have taken a death sentence off the table.

"This is so emotional," she told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Lacey, Wash., where she and her husband

live. "I've just been crying since we heard it because it was a relief ... we just wanted to hear the premeditated."

In the next phase of the trial, which will

begin Monday, jurors must all agree to give Hasan the death penalty

before he can

be sent to the military's death row, which has just five other

prisoners. If they do not agree, the 42-year-old could spend

the rest of his life in prison.

Hasan, a Virginia-born Muslim, said the attack was a jihad against U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He bristled when the

trial judge, Col. Tara Osborn, suggested the shooting rampage could have been avoided were it not for a spontaneous flash

of anger.

"It wasn't done under the heat of sudden passion," Hasan said before jurors began deliberating. "There was adequate provocation

— that these were deploying soldiers that were going to engage in an illegal war."

All but one of the dead were soldiers, including a pregnant private who curled on the floor and pleaded for her baby's life.

The attack came to an end when Hasan was shot in the back by one of the officers responding to the shooting. He is paralyzed

from the waist down, confined to a wheelchair, uses a catheter and wears adult diapers.

The sentencing phase is expected to include more testimony from survivors of the attack inside an Army medical center where

soldiers were waiting in long lines to receive immunizations and medical clearance for deployment.

About 50 soldiers and civilians testified of

hearing someone scream "Allahu akbar!" — Arabic for "God is great!" —

and seeing

a man in Army camouflage open fire. Many identified Hasan as the

shooter and recalled his handgun's red and green laser sights

piercing a room made dark with gun smoke.

Hasan, who acted as his own attorney, began the trial by telling jurors he was the gunman. But he said little else over the

next three weeks, which convinced his court-appointed standby lawyers that Hasan's only goal was to get a death sentence.

As the trial progressed, those suspicions

grew. The military called nearly 90 witnesses, but Hasan rested his case

without

calling a single person to testify in his defense and made no

closing argument. Yet he leaked documents during the trial to

journalists that revealed him telling military mental health

workers that he could "still be a martyr" if executed.

Death sentences are rare in the military and trigger automatic appeals that take decades to play out. Among the final barriers

to execution is authorization from the president. No American soldier has been executed since 1961.

Hasan spent weeks planning the Nov. 5, 2009, attack. His preparation included buying the handgun and videotaping a sales clerk

showing him how to change the magazine.

He later plunked down $10 at a gun range outside Austin and asked for pointers on how to reload with speed and precision.

An instructor said he told Hasan to practice while watching TV or sitting on his couch with the lights off.

When the time came, Hasan stuffed paper

towels in the pockets of his cargo pants to muffle the rattling of extra

ammo and

avoid arousing suspicion. Soldiers testified that Hasan's rapid

reloading made it all but impossible to stop the shooting.

Investigators recovered 146 shell casings inside the medical

building and dozens more outside, where Hasan shot at the backs

of soldiers fleeing toward the parking lot.

The first person to charge Hasan, a civilian doctor, was shot dead while wielding a chair. Another soldier who ran at him

with a table was stopped upon being shot in the hand.

Chief Warrant Officer Christopher Royal saw an opening after hearing the distinct clicking of the gun's chamber emptying.

But he slipped on a puddle of blood while starting a sprint toward Hasan. He was shot in the back.

Tight security blanketed the trial. The

courthouse was made into a fortress insulated by a 20-foot cushion of

blast-absorbing

blockades, plus an outer perimeter of shipping containers stacked

three high. A helicopter ferried Hasan back and forth each

day. The small courtroom was guarded by soldiers carrying

high-powered rifles.

In court, Hasan never played the role of an

angry extremist. He didn't get agitated or raise his voice. He addressed

Osborn

as "ma'am" and occasionally whispered "thank you" when

prosecutors, in accordance with the rules of admitting evidence, handed

Hasan red pill bottles that rattled with bullet fragments removed

from those who were shot.

His muted presence was a contrast to the

spectacles staged by other unapologetic jihadists in U.S. courts.

Terrorist conspirator

Zacarias Moussaoui disrupted his 2006 sentencing for the Sept. 11

attacks multiple times with outbursts, was ejected several

times and once proclaimed, "I am al-Qaida!"

Prosecutors never charged Hasan as a terrorist — an omission that still galls family members of the slain and survivors, some

of whom have sued the U.S. government over missing the warning signs of Hasan's views before the attack.

Hasan has been transported from the jail

each to Fort Hood each day during the trial by military helicopter. He

was shot in

the back by officers responding to the rampage and is paralyzed

from the waist down, confined to a wheelchair, uses a catheter

and wears adult diapers.