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Fort Hood Shooting Suspect Will Face Death Penalty

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FORT HOOD (AP) – The Army psychiatrist charged in the deadly Fort Hood rampage will be court-martialed and face the death penalty.

Fort Hood’s commanding general announced the decision Wednesday for Maj. Nidal Hasan. The decision came as no surprise to Retired Col. John P. Galligan, the civilian attorney representing Hasan. “The law imposes substantial limitations on what the defense can do, the type of forum that can happen. In fact, you’re not even permitted to, as you know, enter a plea of guilty,” he said.

The 40-year-old suspect is expected to appear in a Fort Hood courtroom for an arraignment. He must plead not guilty based on the nature of the case, according to military law.

On Wednesday, former military lawyer and assistant U.S. Attorney Phil Umphres told KRLD NewsRadio 1080 that the death penalty decision was not made lightly. “The military has, I think really, an excellent procedure for making sure that both the rights of the defendant and the rights of the victim are considered.”

Galligan, had urged the commanding general not to seek the death penalty, saying such cases were more costly, time-consuming and restrictive.

Two Army colonels previously recommended that Hasan be tried in a military court and face the death penalty.

A three-member panel determined whether Hasan is competent to stand trial and his mental state during the shootings. It also determined if he had a severe mental illness that day, and if so, whether such a condition prevented him from knowing at the time that his alleged actions were wrong.

Hasan was paralyzed from the waist down after being shot by police the day of the rampage. He remains jailed in the Bell County Jail, which houses defendants for nearby Fort Hood.

Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the November 2009 shooting spree at the Army post.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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