Why Hasan Could Not Plead Guilty In Ft. Hood Mass Killing Case


Nearly four years after the mass shooting at Ft. Hood, Texas, when 13 people were killed and 32 were wounded, the case against Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist who stands accused, got to the pleading stage yesterday, NPR reports. Nasan refused to enter a plea on 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder. Col. Tara Osborn – the judge – entered a not guilty plea for him. Even if he had wanted to, Hassan could not plead guilty. That’s because prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice bars guilty pleas in such cases. When Congress crafted the code in 1950, lawmakers “did not want to subject a service member to capital punishment unless it was a unanimous decision by 12 jurors,” says South Texas of Law Prof. Geoffrey Corn, who retired as a lieutenant colonel in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. “It’s such a grave and significant outcome that it wasn’t felt the judgment should rely solely on the accused’s plea.”

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