The Army psychiatrist who killed 13 people at Fort Hood decided not to call witnesses or testify Tuesday during his trial’s penalty phase, which is his last chance to plead for his life before the jury begins deliberating whether to sentence him to death.
Maj. Nidal Hasan, who is acting as his own attorney, told the judge he was resting his case without submitting evidence, calling witnesses or testifying in his own defense. The judge then dismissed jurors, who convicted Hasan last week for the November 2009 shooting rampage that also wounded more than 30 people at the Texas military base.
But shortly after the jury left the courtroom, the judge asked Hasan more than two dozen questions in rapid fire, affirming that he knew what he was doing. His answers were succinct and just as rapid.
“It is my personal decision,” he said. “It is free and voluntary.”
The judge, Col. Tara Osborn, then read him several court opinions to back up her decision not to introduce evidence in Hasan’s favor on her own.
“In other words, Maj. Hasan, you are the captain of your own ship,” Osborn said. She said closing arguments would begin Wednesday.
Hasan rested his case shortly after more than a dozen widows, parents, children and other relatives of those killed testified about their lives since the attack. Prosecutors hope the emotional testimony helps convince jurors to hand down a rare military death sentence.
Hasan has put up nearly no defense since the trial began three weeks ago. He also called no witnesses and didn’t testify in his own defense before he was convicted, and he questioned only three of prosecutors’ nearly 90 witnesses. Although he gave a brief opening statement, during which he acknowledged that the evidence would show he was the shooter, he gave no closing argument.