Maj. Nidal Hasan was sentenced to death for his 2009 shooting spree at Fort Hood after mounting barely any defense while representing himself.
Some posit that Hasan seeks to be a martyr, which is why he represented himself and did not call witness, give a testimony, or make any statements other than taking responsibility for the shooting. He admitted to his guilt, saying that he was a soldier who switched sides, and that he wanted to protect Islamic insurgents abroad. He had tried to plead guilty before the trial started but was unable to do so.
Hasan has been accused of seeking the death sentence, but his former attorney said that he doesn’t have a death wish. It is hard to believe that he does not, however, after choosing to represent himself and not mounting any sort of defense.
The military justice system has a lengthy appeals process, so it may be years or decades before Hasan is put to death, if the sentence stands.
Commentary by Sam Spital, San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney:
“Published today, November 2, 2012, in the Los Angeles Times, the writer addressed next week’s election in which if passed, Proposition 34 would replace the death penalty with life in prison without parole. While it might seem unusual that opponents of Prop 34 that would abolish capital punishment include both death row inmates and law enforcement, they oppose the measure for opposite reasons. These inmates do not want to give up their right to have legal counsel paid for by the State of California handle their appeals as they would be treated differently if the Proposition were to pass. Law Enforcement believes the death penalty is a deterrent to those prone to criminality and do not want it banned.The Director of the group opposing this measure said: ‘If you are thinking you are going to get your conviction overturned, you certainly have a better chance if you are sentenced to death rather than life because you are provided with more legal assistance…’ The death row inmates claim they need state-paid attorneys to investigate their criminal case and to thereafter file Petitions for Habeas Corpus, which is the legal process to present evidence that was not heard by the Superior Court during their trial, but can be presented to the U.S. District Court and through the federal court system after exhausting their appeals to state court.The fact remains that courts rarely overturn and set aside death penalty verdicts. On the other hand, California has put to death 13 convicted murderers since 1978, and has not executed anyone in the past 6 years.”