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Fort Hood Gunman Hasan Sentenced To Death
An American army psychiatrist has been sentenced to death for killing 13 people in the worst ever attack on a US military base.
Major Nidal Hasan had admitted opening fire on unarmed fellow troops at Fort Hood in Texas in 2009.
The 42-year-old Muslim could become the first US soldier to be executed in more than half a century and the sentence gives him a path to martyrdom he seemed to want.
But because the military justice system requires a lengthy appeals process, years or even decades could pass before he is put to death.
He acknowledged to a military jury that he pulled the trigger in a crowded waiting room where troops were getting final medical check-ups before deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan.
More than 30 people were hurt in the attack.
Hasan called himself a soldier who had "switched sides" in a war and justified the shooting as necessary to protect insurgents against American aggression in the two war-hit countries.
He gave no visible reaction when handed down the death sentence by the jury which found him guilty of the attack last week.
He never denied being the gunman and declined to give a closing argument on Wednesday during his trial's penalty phase - his last chance to address jurors before they decided his fate.
Hasan, acting as his own attorney, did not testify or call witnesses during his trial, and questioned only three of prosecutors' nearly 90 witnesses.
His absent defence stoked suspicion that his ultimate goal was martyrdom, in the form of a death sentence.
The lead prosecutor, Colonel Mike Mulligan, told jurors that history was full of instances of death in the name of religion.
But he said it would be "wrong and unsupportive" to tie Hasan's actions to a wider cause, and that he should be punished for "his hate, for his actions that he took in the name of his religion".
"It was conscious decision to commit murder to serve his own needs, his own wants. His attack by him was all about him. This is about his soul, for his soul he stole life from 13 others," Col Mulligan said.
He assured jurors that Hasan would "never be a martyr" despite his attempt to link the attack to religion.
Col Mulligan added: "He is a criminal. He is a cold-blooded murderer."
Earlier, relatives of the victims gave emotional testimony about the pain and fear they have felt since the atrocity.
Sheryll Pearson sobbed when shown a photo of her son, Private Michael Pearson, hugging her during his graduation.
"We always wanted to see who he was going to become. Now that was taken away from us," she said.
Another witness, Teena Nemelka, said she lost her "baby", the youngest of her four children Private Aaron Nemelka.
She talked about her frantic search for information after learning about the shooting - and about her fear of hearing a knock at the front door of her home.
"You just freeze. You don't want to open that door," she said.
But the knock came, and it delivered "the worst news you could ever hear".
Officials said Hasan will be transported on the first available military flight to the military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.