Hasan’s death sentence will satisfy some

Posted Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The horror never goes away, but a terrible sense of familiarity has crept into our consciousness about mass killings. More often than not, it seems, officials count the bodies of victims, then add one more, that of the suicidal killer.

Nidal Malik Hasan, convicted of killing 13 people and wounding 32 others on Nov. 5, 2009, when he opened fire in a crowded room at Fort Hood’s Soldier Readiness Processing Center, was sentenced to death Wednesday by a military jury at the base.

Some say that’s what Hasan wanted, given that he was captured at the scene, admitted being the shooter, put on no defense at his 22-day trial and made no final statement to the jury of 13 senior military officers.

His death would comply with the wishes of many people, including the families of many of his victims and some of those who survived, even if they still suffer from the wounds he inflicted.

Still, satisfaction can’t be complete. Certainly no one believes that his death for their deaths and suffering is an even trade.

Hasan may never be executed. He will be imprisoned at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., but no executions of active-duty soldiers have been carried out since 1961.

His sentence will be subjected to mandatory appeals. If those appeals reach their end, the sentence will still face a review by the president as commander in chief.

An attorney who has helped Hasan with legal matters outside his trial told The Washington Post that the convicted man does not have a death wish.

He put up no defense at his trial, the attorney said, because the judge would not allow him to tell the jury that he carried out the killings to save Taliban leaders in Afghanistan, where his victims were about to be deployed.

Hasan, the attorney said, is more likely to die from medical reasons related to the gunshot wounds and paralysis he suffered during his capture.

No matter how satisfying his conviction and death sentence may be to some people, maybe the best to hope for is that all involved except Hasan can get on with their lives. One day, the final body will be counted.

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