Covered at Reason 24/7: Judge Rejects Fort Hood Shooter's Guilty Plea

Against military rules because the death penalty applies


he's not a hippie
Reason 24/7

Major Nidal Hasan was charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder within a month of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting and arraigned in 2011. A trial was set for last year but has faced multiple delays, including when Hasan refused to shave his beard as required by military rules. Now the rules are prohibiting his plea from being accepted.

From the Washington Times:

The Fort Hood soldier charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder in the 2009 military post rampage cannot plead guilty, a judge ruled Wednesday.

The Associated Press reports that Maj. Nidal Hasan's attorneys said he wanted to plead guilty. He's barred, however, by Army rules. Military judges can't take guilty pleas from defendants who face the death penalty, AP says. So attorneys tried to get the judge to accept a guilty plea for 13 counts of unpremeditated murder — to no avail, AP reports.

No word on whether his attempted guilty plea might affect his rank or paycheck.

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  1. Sounds like a self-imposed check on gov’t power. I don’t have any problem with it, other than the death penalty shouldn’t exist at all.

    1. Agreed. It’s too risky to let people plea guilty when so much is at stake. Too much room for manipulation of the accused. Also agreed that there should be no death penalty. There’s no way to implement it fairly.

      1. I agree with both of those statements (no death penalty, no guilty pleas if it exists), but they should also let him have a noose in his sell if he wants one.

        1. “they should also let him have a noose in his sell if he wants one.”

          If someone wishes to take his own life, that is none of my business. So long as the process doesn’t become my business as a citizen.

          1. We probably wind up paying for the funeral at some exorbitant rate.

      2. I am not losing sleep over imposition of the death penalty on a man whose guilt is not in doubt. The beard rule seems kinda silly. I suppose the military could forcibly shave Hasan or just move on with the trial. These sorts of nits are why we can’t have nice things.

        1. Problem with either of your beard related solutions is that it screws up the appeals process (assuming he is found guilty).

          Then again if he was allowed to plead guilty, there probably wouldn’t be an appeal.

          I guess the jury’s still out on this one.

    2. other than the death penalty shouldn’t exist at all.

      I disagree. Break into my home in the middle of the night, death penalty is definitely on the table.

  2. Do they have bifurcated trials for death penalty cases under the UCMJ?

  3. Huh – I did not know this. Sounds ike a pretty good practice.

    PS Me love you LONG time, ad

    1. wow, that really makes since when you think about it.

      1. Sometimes you jsut have to roll with it, man!

        1. LTC (ret) John, I hear from Alice that your wife is making the big bucks on the computer!

  4. I’m sorry, but if he wants to plead guilty, he should be able to plead guilty. He knew what the penalty for premeditated murder was when he voluntarily joined the Army. He also knew it every time he re-upped.

    It’s not like we’re talking a civilian court here where he didn’t voluntarily agree to join an organization with strict penalties for criminal behavior. He volunteered to join the Army, and in that case he should be able to plead any way he wants regardless of what the penalty is.

    Just my opinion. And I do not like the death penalty except in cases where the defendant pleads guilty with the full understanding that his guilty plea will result in his death. But this is not a civilian court, and he entered his association with their justice system (the UCMJ) voluntarily.

    1. This whole “trial” is a complete sham.

      1. You mean the one that hasn’t happened yet? It must be interesting to be able to see the future.

        1. And there’s never going to be one either. These proceedings are all theatrics being staged for that small portion of the public that can remember what happened before yesterday.

    2. “except in cases where the defendant pleads guilty with the full understanding that his guilty plea will result in his death.”

      We’d have to trust the government to ‘promise’ the plea wasn’t coerced.
      Not OK by me.

      1. I have a healthy distrust of government, but standing in open court and declaring one’s own guilt doesn’t sound like a place where coercion would be likely. In fact, had he been coerced in the past, it would be the one place he could safely bring up that fact.

        In cases like this, I kinda look at the death penalty as a form of suicide being voluntarily entered into. And if someone wants to off themselves, who am I to stop them?

        1. I think I like the idea of letting them hang themselves in their cell better.

          1. So do I. But if they want to make a political statement by letting the state do it, who am I to complain.

            Again, though, he voluntarily joined the Army. He re-upped more than once. He knew what the UCMJ says the penalty for his crimes was. He should be free to plead guilty and walk outside to a firing squad if he wants to.

  5. He’s in the military, the military kills people…even their own when necessary.

  6. I disagree with the entire principle of plea deals. “Hey man, you do (x) I’ll give you (y).

    Just seems to circumvent the entire theory of justice.

    1. Agreed, but that’s not what’s going on here. He’s offered to plead guilty for the crimes he has committed, and he knew the penalties when he voluntarily joined the organization that utilizes the UCMJ.

      If not allowing someone to plead guilty for crimes they committed is justice, then I’m the Pope.

      1. bah, misposted out of thread. Comment below.

  7. Well, you’re effectively letting the criminal set his own sentence. Death, for this guy, is probably viewed as some kind of martyrdom. Granted, I’m just pissing in the wind with that guess, but the primary point still stands; should a criminal be allowed to effectively set his own sentence?

    1. Because he views it as martyrdom and a reward doesn’t mean society should forego it. It’s not like his martyrdom is gonna gain any more sympathy and converts to fundamentalist Islam and the Jihadists than our invasions, occupations, drone war and persistent meddling in the affairs of other nations will.

      I say, let him have his reward.

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