Pentagon Discuses Charges Against Fort Hood Shooter
News in Balance:
WASHINGTON, Dec. 2, 2009 -- Thirty-two specifications of attempted premeditated murder were preferred today against alleged Fort Hood, Texas, shooter Army Maj. Nidal M. Hasan under Article 80 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
The UCMJ is the U.S. military's legal system for servicemembers.
Hasan allegedly killed 13 people - 12 soldiers and one civilian employee - and wounded 30 others at Fort Hood during a Nov. 5 shooting spree. He now is confined in a medical facility.
The alleged shooter was confronted and wounded by two civilian police officers posted on the base. One of the officers, Sgt. Kimberly Munley, was wounded during an exchange of shots with the suspected gunman.
Hasan initially was charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder under Article 118 of the UCMJ. He has hired a lawyer.
As with the initial charges, the new charges are allegations only, and the accused is presumed innocent until proven otherwise, officials emphasized, noting that the investigation continues and additional charges remain a possibility.
Under Article 118, the minimum sentence if he's convicted is life with the possibility of parole. The maximum sentence is death.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates appointed former Veterans Affairs Secretary Togo West and retired Navy Adm. Vernon Clark to lead an independent review panel that will examine the circumstances surrounding the Fort Hood shootings to see how potential future incidents could be avoided.
"We will look at policies and procedures that look at how we deal with servicemembers who may cause trouble or harm to their fellows," West said at a Nov. 24 news conference at Fort Hood.
The panel is to report its findings to Gates by Jan. 15.
(Report by Gerry J. Gilmore, American Forces Press Service.)