Official: Lead prosecutor named in Fort Hood case

AP News
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Posted: Dec 11, 2009 9:23 PM

A senior military official said Friday that a new lead prosecutor has been appointed in the Fort Hood shooting case, a man who secured the death penalty in a similar case four years ago.

Col. Michael Mulligan will head the prosecution of Maj. Nidal Hasan, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the investigation.

Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the Nov. 5 shooting on the Texas Army post. Hasan remains hospitalized in a San Antonio military hospital, recovering from gunshot wounds that left him paralyzed.

"They're building a team and bringing in outsiders, which shows they're going full steam ahead," Hasan's civilian attorney, John Galligan, said Friday of Mulligan's appointment. "I just urge that they show the same degree of fairness to the defense, and I would like to think that every case is treated differently."

Galligan said he has filed a motion to add two more military defense attorneys to his team.

Mulligan prosecuted the 2005 case at Fort Bragg, N.C., in which Sgt. Hasan Akbar was sentenced to death for a 2003 attack on members of the elite 101st Airborne Division at Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait. Two officers were killed and 14 other soldiers were wounded in the rifle and grenade attack.

During the trial, Mulligan told jurors that Akbar, a Muslim, launched the attack at his camp _ days before the soldiers were to move into Iraq _ because he was concerned about U.S. troops killing fellow Muslims.

An Islamic community leader in Killeen near Fort Hood has said Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, had previously sought advice because he felt conflicted about what to tell fellow Muslim soldiers who expressed misgivings about fighting other Muslims. Hasan's family has said he confided in them that he felt harassed as a Muslim in the U.S. military.

In Akbar's case, a defense psychiatrist testified that Akbar suffered from forms of paranoia and schizophrenia but was legally sane and understood the consequences of his attack. Akbar's father also had said his son complained in vain to his superiors about religious and racial harassment before the attack.

Akbar became the sixth person on the military's death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. The last U.S. military execution was in 1961.

Army officials have not said whether they will seek the death penalty in the Fort Hood case. They have said that doctors will evaluate Hasan by mid-January to determine his competency to stand trial as well as his mental state at the time of the shooting.

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AP National Security Writer Anne Gearan contributed from Washington, D.C.