National News

Nov 11, 2009 7:00 PM

Death penalty possible for Fort Hood suspect

WASHINGTON (AP) - He could face the death penalty if convicted of last week's massacre at Fort Hood.
But Maj. Nidal Hasan (nih-DAHL' hah-SAHN') may also benefit from a military justice system that offers defendants more protections than those offered in civilian federal courts.
Though five men sit on the military's death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., there hasn't been a military execution since 1961.
Unlike in civilian courts, a defendant and his lawyer can be present at the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing, and the lawyer is allowed to present evidence and cross-examine witnesses.
Prosecutors in the military system also turn over many more documents to the defense before trial.
Hasan's jury would consist of at least 12 officers of higher rank or seniority, and legal experts say it will be "a very educated" panel.
Also, the president must personally approve before a military execution can be carried out.
As one military law expert at Yale puts it: the "military justice system is not bloodthirsty."

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