Associated Press= FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — The Army psychiatrist charged in the Fort Hood shooting rampage still faces the death penalty if convicted in the worst mass shooting on a U.S. military installation, a judge ruled Wednesday.
A trial date was not set for Maj. Nidal Hasan, whose attorneys say he wants to plead guilty to 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the 2009 attack on the Texas Army post.
The judge, Col. Tara Osborn, said she would consider Hasan's motion at a hearing next month, but Army rules prohibit judges from accepting guilty pleas in death penalty cases. Under the military justice system, a commanding general decides if the death penalty will be sought, and plea bargains in capital cases are not allowed.
Hasan's attorneys have filed motions indicating that if his current guilty plea isn't accepted, he instead will plead guilty to unpremeditated murder, which does not carry the death penalty. Even if the judge accepts Hasan's guilty pleas to lesser charges, Hasan still would face a death sentence if prosecutors decide to move forward with the trial and jurors convict him on his original charges, military law experts said.