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Before death, Fort Hood shooter faces long appeals

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 29, 2013 at 6:36 am •  Published: August 29, 2013
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Once his appeals begin, Hasan will be assigned military counsel. He could also choose to retain civilian lawyers.

John Galligan, a retired Army colonel who was Hasan's former lead civilian counsel, said he doesn't believe Hasan is seeking execution, as his appointed standby lawyers at trial have suggested. He has met with Hasan frequently during the trial and said several civilian attorneys — including anti-death penalty activists — have offered to take on his appeal.

Galligan estimates the military has already spent more than $6 million on Hasan's trial. He said that will triple during appeals, which he believes will take longer than Hasan's remaining life expectancy.

"This will invariably be an appeal that will take decades," Galligan said, "and, Maj. Hasan, I don't know if he'll ever survive it." He added: "If anything's going to kill Hasan in the short term ... it will probably be natural causes due to his medical conditions."

Hasan may have a plausible appeal on the grounds that he was never competent to represent himself at trial. Gutheinz said that argument could be complicated somewhat if Hasan refuses help from any civilian attorneys and is reluctant to cooperate with assigned military counsel — but that may not make things go any faster since there will be pressure for the military system to move cautiously on such a high-profile case.

"Obviously this appeal will have high visibility but I believe, if anything, it will be a slower process," Gutheinz said.

Keely Vanacker, whose father Michael Cahill was gunned down when he charged Hasan with a chair to try and stop the rampage, said she knows that the lengthy appeals process means Hasan is likely to die in prison.

"As long as I don't ever have to see him in the media again," said Vanacker, "that matters more to me than whether or not he's put to death."

Kathy Platoni, who still struggles with images of Capt. John Gaffaney bleeding to death at her feet, said she was surprised he was sentenced to death partly because the families had talked openly about their desire to deny Hasan the right to perceive himself as a martyr. Still, she wasn't opposed to the punishment.

"I don't know how long it takes for a death sentence to be carried out," Platoni said, "but the world will be a better place without him."

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Associated Press writer Ramit Plushnick-Masti contributed to this report from Houston.