Sentencing Phase Begins For Fort Hood Shooter

In the next several days, the military jury serving in the court martial of Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan will face a sentencing decision in a case fraught with ambiguity.

Last week's verdict found Hasan guilty of 13 counts of murder and 32 counts of attempted murder for the devastating shooting that took place at the Fort Hood army base on November 5, 2009. In the next two or three days days, the jury will hear further testimony in order to decide if these crimes merit the death penalty by lethal injection or a life sentence in prison. The military has not executed a service member since 1961.

What complicates the decision is Hasan's own apparent willingness to face death. Monday will be his last opportunity to provide testimony in an attempt to convince the jury to spare his life. Based on past statements, however, it is unlikely that Hasan will use the floor to ask for forgiveness. Hasan, who chose to serve as his own attorney, told a panel during a mental health evaluation, "If I died by lethal injection, I would still be a martyr."

Hasan has made no attempt to dissociate himself from these crimes, nor has he shown any remorse for his actions. On the contrary, he has gone on record to say "I don't think what I did was wrong because it was for the greater cause of helping my Muslim brothers." Hasan, who was an Army Medical Corps officer at the time, was preparing for deployment to Afghanistan on the day of the shooting.

Surviving victims and the families of those killed have had the opportunity to make victim impact statements, and many have blamed the government for failing to recognize warning signs in Hasan's history. Most of all, however, they express a desire for the drawn-out trial to come to an end so that they can finally begin to try to move on.