The attorney for the Fort Hood shooting suspect plans to urge the Texas Army post's new commanding general not to seek the death penalty in the case, he said Tuesday.
John Galligan, lead attorney for Maj. Nidal Hasan, is to meet May 6 with Lt. Gen. Donald Campbell, who said Tuesday that he will consider anything the defense team presents before he makes any decisions in the case.
Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the November 2009 shootings.
Two Army colonels have recommended that Hasan be court-martialed and face the death penalty. A commanding general will make the final decision, and it's expected to be Campbell, although he could send the case to another general to make that decision.
Galligan said that he will urge Campbell to consider all options, saying death-penalty cases are more costly, time-consuming and restrictive. If Campbell decides that Hasan will be court-martialed and face the death penalty, Hasan will no longer have the option of pleading guilty and must have a jury trial rather than opt for a judge to decide the case, which could pose problems if an impartial jury cannot be found at Fort Hood, Galligan said.
If Campbell decides that Hasan will go to trial but will not face the death penalty, then the punishment will be life without parole in a military prison if convicted, Galligan said.
"There is a way for closure for people and for anybody who's a victim, and (not seeking the death penalty) makes sense," Galligan told The Associated Press from his Fort Hood-area office, about 125 miles south of Fort Worth. "There are some people in society who don't want justice as much as they want vengeance."
Galligan, who said he was not admitting his client's guilt, said the defense team has been "actively engaging with the prosecution only to determine if there's a way to get the death penalty off the table, with no apparent progress."
Galligan declined to say whether he is considering an insanity defense for Hasan, 40, who was paralyzed from the waist down after being shot by police the day of the rampage and remains jailed.
Last month Galligan had requested a delay in proceedings in Hasan's case until late April, after Campbell assumed command Fort Hood. Galligan also requested a meeting with Campbell.
Lt. Gen. Robert Cone, who left the post last week to become a four-star general and take command of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Monroe, Va, granted that request.