FORT HOOD – A military jury convicted Maj. Nidal Hasan Friday in the November 2009 shooting rampage that left 13 dead and more than 30 wounded inside a crowded room in Fort Hood.
The jury panel of thirteen U.S. Army officers said Hasan is guilty of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder. They spent more than six hours over two days deliberating Major Hasan's fate.
Finally, at 12:32 p.m., the judge read the verdict, "This court martial finds you on the original charge, guilty by unanimous vote."
Hasan sat quietly and showed no emotion as the verdict was read.
The jury panel's unanimous guilty verdict makes Hasan eligible for the death penalty.
Judge Tara Osborn told everyone in the courtroom to stay calm and not show any emotion. She asked anyone who couldn't do that to leave the courtroom, including more than a dozen family members of victims.
But no one left. The family members in the courtroom Friday chose not to talk with reporters.
"Today's guilty verdict, rendered almost four years after the attack, is only a first small step down the path of justice for the victims," wrote prosecuting attorneys Neal Scher and Reed Rubinstein.
In the next phase of the trial, the jury panel must all agree to give Hasan the death penalty before he can be sent to the military's death row, which has just five other prisoners. If they do not agree, the 42-year-old could spend the rest of his life in prison.
Military prosecutors are planning to call 16 witnesses, including one family member of each of the 12 soldiers and one civilian who were killed.
Judge Osborn reconvened the court Friday afternoon to address the Army major who had been found guilty a few hours earlier. She asked him if he understands the jury panel will now decide whether he lives or dies.
Even though she told him it is unwise to represent yourself during sentencing, he will continue to do exactly that.
The U.S. Military Court last executed an active duty U.S. soldier 52 years ago.
Hasan represented himself during trial and admitted to the massacre during a brief opening statement. He also never really challenged the Army’s case against him. He didn't call any witnesses, present a defense or give a closing argument.
That could change during sentencing, when he will be allowed to speak without restrictions.
Hasan, a Virginia-born Muslim, said the attack was a jihad against U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He bristled when the trial judge, Col. Tara Osborn, suggested the shooting rampage could have been avoided were it not for a spontaneous flash of anger.
"It wasn't done under the heat of sudden passion," Hasan said before jurors began deliberating. "There was adequate provocation — that these were deploying soldiers that were going to engage in an illegal war."
Army attorneys told the judge they are ready to begin sentencing immediately, though Hasan has asked for an extra day to prepare.