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Fort Hood Gunman Will Sit On Death Row At Fort Leavenworth

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U.S. Army doctor Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is the lone suspect in the shooting death of 13 people and wounding of 31 others at Fort Hood in 2009. (credit: Bell Co. Sheriff's Dept.)

U.S. Army doctor Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is the lone suspect in the shooting death of 13 people and wounding of 31 others at Fort Hood in 2009. (credit: Bell Co. Sheriff’s Dept.)

TOPEKA, Kan. (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — The soldier sentenced to death for the 2009 mass shooting at the Fort Hood Army Base will head to the military death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, officials said Wednesday.

Major Nidal Hasan, who was was sentenced to death Wednesday for killing 13 people and wounding more than 30 others, would be taken back to a county jail and then transported on the first available military flight to Fort Leavenworth, officials said. The timing wasn’t immediately clear.

Fort Leavenworth’s U.S. Disciplinary Barracks is the military’s only maximum-security prison, housing inmates who are sentenced to at least 10 years in prison as well as death.

Hasan’s case is unusual given his physical condition and limitations. The Army psychiatrist was shot in the back during the shooting rampage and is paralyzed from the waist down. He is confined to a wheelchair and requires specialized care for his needs.

Kimberly Lewis, a spokeswoman for Fort Leavenworth, said the prison has a health clinic that is staffed with active duty military medical professionals and civil service medical professionals. She declined to address specific medical needs that any one inmate would require or receive.

Routine medical care is managed through sick call and medical appointments throughout the week. She said specialty care is coordinated through scheduled appointments within the prison or through local hospitals and specialty clinics.

“Inmates have access to emergency and urgent care on a daily basis, with sick call integrated into the daily schedule, typically five days per week,” Lewis said.

Hasan’s confinement at Fort Leavenworth could complicate the logistics for prison staff, given his physical limitations, said Anita Gorecki-Robbins, a former Army attorney now in private practice.

She said death row inmates have special custody procedures, including how they are handled during daily recreation time. Only two inmates are allowed in the so-called “bullpen” where they can exercise, a space with 40-foot high walls and solid concrete floors.

“Death row inmates will never see or feel grass ever again,” Gorecki-Robbins said.

She said procedures require two inmates to be released into the recreation area without guards. If Hasan requires medical assistance, only he and the attendant would be allowed out unless other logistics are arranged.

The prison, which was opened in 2002 to replace a facility that was first constructed in 1875, resembles a large community college or industrial building, with inmates housed in pods. The complex is Americans with Disabilities Act compliant.

Hasan will join five other inmates who also are on death row, though one could have his sentence commuted to life in prison. None of the death row inmates are close to an execution date.

The last military execution took place in 1961 when John Bennett, an Army private convicted of raping and attempting to kill an 11-year-old Austrian girl, was put to death. President Dwight Eisenhower signed his execution order in 1957.

Lewis said Fort Leavenworth does have a special housing unit that could perform executions, though one inmate was scheduled to have his execution carried out at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., the same location where convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was executed in 2001 by lethal injection.

Ronald Gray, a former Army cook sentenced in April 1988 to die for murders and rapes he committed in North Carolina, was scheduled to be executed in Indiana but the execution was stayed by a federal judge in 2008 for further review.

(©2013 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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