Well, it looks like Hassan ploy to avoid the needle by pleading is a NO-GO. (Yeah, I know – he’s still technically a member of the military. I don’t care. I refuse to give that treacherous asshole the honor of using a military title with his name.) The judge didn’t take the bait.
Nidal Hassan, the Fort Hood shooter, recently offered to plead guilty to noncapital murder. However, the military judge in the case, COL Tara Osborn, refused to accept his plea. He’ll be tried for capital murder, with the death penalty in play.
IMO, COL Olson made the correct decision. The UCMJ prohibits pleading guilty to a capital crime. While theoretically his trial on capital murder charges could have proceeded after a guilty plea to noncapital murder, that might possibly also have given Nidal an avenue for appeal. In that scenario Hassan would have pleaded guilty to a lesser included crime, then later been convicted for the original crime for which he was charged. You never know beforehand how the Court of Military Appeals or the SCOTUS might view such a situation.
The possibility for the plea influencing one or more panel members was also likely a consideration. Death penalty sentences under the UCMJ must be unanimous. The defense was obviously hoping that a guilty plea to lesser charges, if accepted, would be considered as “acceptance of responsibility” (yeah, right) during sentencing deliberations.
COL Osborn is also weighing whether to allow the testimony of an terrorism expert. Defense attorneys predictably oppose this, claiming it would be “prejudicial”.
The wheels of justice indeed turn slowly. But as I’m guessing Hassan is going to find out, they also grind exceedingly fine.
Keep thinking about those “72 virgins”, Nidal. Hopefully you’ll be seeing them soon. And to help you better appreciate what’s in store for you, here’s your own personalized preview (WARNING: image may be disturbing to full stomachs):