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Army colonel says Hasan should stand trial, face death penalty

Army colonel says Hasan should stand trial, face death penalty

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Associated Press

DALLAS -- A military official is recommending that an Army psychiatrist stand trial and face the death penalty for last year's fatal shooting rampage at Fort Hood, a defense attorney said Wednesday.

Col. James Pohl, who oversaw the recent military court hearing for Maj. Nidal Hasan, made an initial recommendation that he be court-martialed on 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder, his lead defense attorney, John Galligan, told The Associated Press.

Pohl submitted his report Tuesday, but Army officials refused to disclose it. Galligan said he received Pohl's recommendation Wednesday, and a Fort Hood spokesman confirmed later in the day that Pohl found "probable cause" from the hearing to support a capital murder case.

Pohl's recommendation was sent to another high-ranking Army official. If that officer agrees with Pohl, the final decision on whether Hasan will stand trial on those charges rests with a commanding general. Galligan said he has not reviewed Pohl's full report but plans to file objections.

"I doubt it will matter because the full weight of the Army is behind this case," Galligan said from his office near the Army post, about 130 miles southwest of Dallas.

Army officials have not said whether they would seek the death penalty if the case goes to trial.

Pohl oversaw the Article 32 hearing, held to determine if charges move forward in military court. The hearing began last month, and more than two dozen soldiers wounded in the Nov. 5, 2009, shooting testified, some through live video links from Iraq and Afghanistan.

After a three-week break, the hearing resumed Monday and then ended after the defense chose not to present any evidence.

Witnesses have said a gunman wearing an Army combat uniform shouted "Allahu Akbar!" -- Arabic for "God is great!" -- and opened fire in a crowded medical building where deploying soldiers get vaccines and other tests. The gunman fired rapidly, pausing only to reload, even shooting at some people as they hid under desks and fled the building, witnesses said.

When it was over, 12 soldiers and one civilian lay dead. Investigators found 146 shell casings on the floor, another 68 outside the building and 177 unused rounds of ammunition in the gunman's pockets.

The gunman was identified as Hasan, an American-born Muslim who was scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan the following month.

Before the attack, Hasan bought a laser-equipped semiautomatic handgun and repeatedly visited a firing range, where he honed his skills by shooting at the heads on silhouette targets, witnesses testified during the hearing.

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