FORT HOOD, Texas — A military jury on Wednesday sentenced Maj. Nidal Hasan to death for the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, handing the Army psychiatrist the ultimate punishment after a trial in which he seemed to be courting martyrdom by making almost no effort to defend himself.

The rare military death sentence came nearly four years after the attack that stunned even an Army hardened by more than a decade of constant war. Hasan walked into a medical building where soldiers were getting medical checkups, shouted "Allahu akbar" – Arabic for "God is great!" – and opened fire with a laser-sighted handgun. Thirteen people were killed.

Hasan, who said he acted to protect Islamic insurgents abroad from American aggression, had no visible reaction when the sentence was announced, staring first at the jury forewoman and then at the judge. Some victims' relatives were in the courtroom but none showed any reaction, which the judge had warned against.

The American-born Muslim of Palestinian descent acted as his own attorney and never denied his actions at the huge Texas Army post. In opening statements, he told jurors that evidence would show he was the shooter and described himself as a soldier who had "switched sides."

The same jurors who convicted Hasan last week deliberated the sentence for about two hours. They needed to agree unanimously on the death penalty. The only alternative was life in prison without parole.

Kathy Platoni, an Army reservist who still struggles with images of Capt. John Gaffaney bleeding to death at her feet, said she was not opposed to the punishment.

Hasan wanted "to be a martyr and so many of the (victims') families had spoken to the issue of not giving him what he wants because this is his own personal holy war," said Platoni, who watched most of the trial from inside the courtroom.

"But on the other hand – this is from the bottom of my heart – he doesn't deserve to live," she said. "I don't know how long it takes for a death sentence to be carried out, but the world will be a better place without him."

Hasan could become the first American soldier executed in more than half a century. But because the military justice system requires a lengthy appeals process, years or even decades could pass before he is put to death.

He was expected to be taken on the next available flight to the military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.

In his final plea for a death sentence, the lead prosecutor assured jurors that Hasan would "never be a martyr" despite his attempt to tie the attack to religion.

"He is a criminal. He is a cold-blooded murderer," Col. Mike Mulligan said. "This is not his gift to God. This is his debt to society. This is the cost of his murderous rampage."

Since the attack, the federal government has sought to execute Hasan, believing that any sentence short of a lethal injection would deny justice to the families of the dead and the survivors who had believed they were safe behind the gates of Fort Hood, about 70 miles north of Austin.

And for just as long, Hasan seemed content to go to the death chamber for his beliefs. He fired his own attorneys to represent himself, barely mounted a defense during the three-week trial and made almost no effort to have his life spared.

Mulligan reminded the jury that Hasan was a trained doctor yet opened fire on defenseless comrades. Hasan "only dealt death," the prosecutor said, so the only appropriate sentence was death.

Hasan was never allowed to argue in front of the jury that the shooting was necessary to protect Islamic and Taliban leaders. But during the trial, he leaked documents to journalists that revealed he told military mental health workers in 2010 that he could "still be a martyr" if executed by the government.

When Hasan began shooting, soldiers were standing in long lines to receive immunizations and doctors' clearance. Many of the soldiers were preparing to deploy, while others had recently returned home.

All but one of the dead were soldiers, including a pregnant private who curled on the floor and pleaded for her unborn child's life. It was the deadliest shooting ever at a U.S. military installation. More than 30 other people were wounded.

The attack ended when authorities shot Hasan in the back. He is now paralyzed from the waist down and uses a wheelchair.

The military called nearly 90 witnesses at the trial and more during the sentencing phase. But Hasan rested his case without calling a single person to testify and made no closing argument. Even with his life at stake during the sentencing phase, he made no attempt to question witnesses and gave no final statement to jurors.

Hasan's civil attorney, John Galligan, said Wednesday that Hasan received an unfair trial. Galligan said he was disappointed in the sentence and was confident it would be reversed on appeal.

Death sentences are unusual in the military, which has just five other prisoners on death row. Of 16 death sentences handed down by military juries in the last 30 years, 11 have been overturned, according to an academic study and court records. No American soldier has been executed since 1961.

Eduardo Caraveo, whose father was killed in the rampage, said he cared more about Hasan being convicted than about the sentencing. But he would have preferred to see Hasan receive a life sentence.

"I didn't want him getting any satisfaction, so him getting killed by the government just gives him what he wanted .... to be a martyr," said Caraveo, who lives in Tucson, Ariz. "My main thing is him being held accountable for his action. That's really all I ever wanted."

Authorities said Hasan spent weeks planning the Nov. 5, 2009, attack, including buying a handgun and videotaping a sales clerk showing him how to change the magazine.

He later plunked down $10 at a gun range outside Austin and asked for pointers on how to reload with speed and precision. An instructor said he told Hasan to practice while watching television or sitting on his couch with the lights off.

When the time came, Hasan stuffed paper towels in the pockets of his cargo pants to muffle the rattling of extra ammunition and avoid arousing suspicion. Soldiers testified that Hasan's rapid reloading made it all but impossible to stop him. Investigators recovered 146 shell casings in the medical building and dozens more outside, where Hasan shot at the backs of soldiers fleeing toward the parking lot.

In court, Hasan never played the role of an angry extremist. He didn't get agitated or raise his voice. He addressed the judge as "ma'am" and occasionally whispered "thank you" when prosecutors, in accordance with the rules of evidence, handed Hasan red pill bottles that rattled with bullet fragments removed from those who were shot.

___

Associated Press writers Will Weissert at Fort Hood and Ramit Plushnick-Masti in Houston contributed to this report.

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  • Nidal Hasan

    FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Bell County Sheriff's Department via The Temple Daily Telegram shows Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist charged in the deadly 2009 Fort Hood shooting. Hasan should be forced to shave his beard to avoid any potential jury bias in his pending murder trial, say some military experts and the judge overseeing his pending court-martial. (AP Photo/Bell County Sheriff's Department via The Temple Daily Telegram, File)

  • Nidal Hasan

    FILE - An April 9, 2010 file photo provided by the Bell County Sheriffs Department, shows U.S. Maj. Nidal Hasan at the San Antonio to Bell County Jail in Belton, Texas. Judge, Col. Gregory Gross, is to decide at a pretrial hearing Tuesday Aug. 14, 2012, whether to delay the trial of Hasan. (AP Photo/Bell County Sheriffs Department, File)

  • Nidal Malik Hasan

    FILE - The 2007 file photo provided by the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) shows Nidal Malik Hasan when he undertook the Disaster and Military Psychiatry Fellowship program. Hasan is charged in the fatal 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood which killed 13 people and injured more that 30 others. He faces the death penalty if convicted. (AP Photo/Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, File)

  • Fort Hood Shooting

    Maj. Laura Suttinger of the 467th Combat Stress Control Detachment shows a bracelet at a press conference Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010, in Madison, Wis. The bracelet commemorates soldiers who were killed on Nov. 5, 2009, at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas, during a shooting rampage suspect Maj. Nidal Hasan. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)

  • Fort Hood Shooting

    FILE - In this Nov. 5, 2009 file photo, the entrance to Fort Hood Army Base in Fort Hood, Texas, near Killeen is seen. Eighty-three victims and family members in the worst mass shooting ever at a U.S. military installation are seeking $750 million in compensation from the Army, alleging that willful negligence enabled psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan to carry out a terrorist attack at Fort Hood, Texas. (AP Photo/Jack Plunkett, File)

  • Shawn Manning

    In this Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013, photo, retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Shawn Manning poses for a photo, at his home in Lacey, Wash., as he holds a memorial bracelet for members of his military unit who were killed in a 2009 mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas. Manning, who still carries two bullets in his body from the shooting that killed 13 people, is scheduled to testify at the court martial for Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the accused shooter this week. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

  • Shawn Manning

    In this Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013, photo, retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Shawn Manning poses for a photo, at his home in Lacey, Wash. as he holds a photograph from the memorial for victims of a 2009 mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas. Manning, who still carries two bullets in his body from the shooting that killed 13 people, is scheduled to testify at the court martial for Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the accused shooter this week. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

  • Kathy Platoni

    File - In this Nov. 1, 2010 file photo from Beaver Creek Ohio, U.S. Army Col. Kathy Platoni talks of the Fort Hood, Texas shooting that took 13 lives and wounded more than 30 others. After years of delays, Platoni will come face to face with Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the man accused of the 2009 shooting rampage. (AP Photo/Al Behrman, File)

  • Fort Hood Shooting

    This handout photo courtesy of Eduardo Caraveo show Maj Libardo Eduardo Caraveo, who was killed during a mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas on Nov. 5, 2009. A trial for Maj. Nidal Hasan, who is charged in the shooting rampage that left 13 dead and more than 30 others wounded, starts Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Eduardo Caraveo)

  • John Gaffaney

    File - This undated file photo provided by the Gaffaney family shows John Gaffaney, who was killed during a mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas on Nov. 5, 2009. A trial for Maj. Nidal Hasan, who is charged in the shooting rampage that left 13 dead and more than 30 others wounded, starts Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013. (AP Photo/Gaffaney Family)

  • Fort Hood Shooting

    This handout photo courtesy of Keely Vanacker shows Mike Cahill who was killed during a mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas on Nov. 5, 2009. A trial for Maj. Nidal Hasan, who is charged in the shooting rampage that left 13 dead and more than 30 others wounded, starts Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013. (AP Photo/Keely Vanacker)

  • Fort Hood Shooting

    FILE - This file combination image shows handout photos of the victims killed during the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas. From top left, Michael Grant Cahill, 62, of Cameron, Texas; Maj. Libardo Eduardo Caraveo, 52, of Woodbridge, Va.; Staff Sgt. Justin M. DeCrow, 32, of Evans, Ga.; Capt. John Gaffaney, 56, of San Diego, Calif.; Spc. Frederick Greene, 29, of Mountain City, Tenn.; Spc. Jason Dean Hunt, 22, of Frederick, Okla., Sgt. Amy Krueger, 29, of Kiel, Wis.; Pfc. Aaron Thomas Nemelka, 19, of West Jordan, Utah; Pfc. Michael Pearson, 22, of Bolingbrook, Ill.; Capt. Russell Seager, 51, of Racine, Wis.; Pvt. Francheska Velez, 21, of Chicago; Lt. Col. Juanita Warman, 55, of Havre de Grace, Md.; and Pfc. Kham Xiong, 23, of St. Paul, Minn. A trial for Nidal Hasan, who is charged in the shooting rampage that left 13 dead and more than 30 others wounded, starts Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013. (AP Photo, File)

  • Alonzo Lunsford

    In this Tuesday, June 4, 2013, photo, retired Staff Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford walks down the steps of his home in Lillington, N.C. Nearly three dozen soldiers, including Lunsford, who was wounded in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas are facing the prospect of being approached and questioned in court by the man many witnesses have identified as the gunman: Maj. Nidal Hasan. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

  • Alonzo Lunsford

    In this Tuesday, June 4, 2013, photo, photos of Staff Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford recovering from his wounds after the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas are displayed on a desk at his home in Lillington, N.C. Nearly three dozen soldiers wounded in the deadly attack on the Texas Army post are facing the prospect of being approached and questioned in court by the man many witnesses have identified as the gunman: Maj. Nidal Hasan. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

  • Alonzo Lunsford

    In this Tuesday, June 4, 2013, photo, retired Staff Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford describes one of his wounds from the 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage, at his home in Lillington, N.C. Nearly three dozen soldiers wounded in the deadly attack on the Texas Army post are facing the prospect of being approached and questioned in court by the man many witnesses have identified as the gunman: Maj. Nidal Hasan. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

  • Fort Hood Shooting

    FILE- In this July 20, 2011, file photo, U.S. Army military police walk out of the Lawrence H. Williams Judicial Center where a hearing for U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan was being conducted in Fort Hood, Texas. Hasan is charged in the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood that left 13 dead and more than 30 others wounded. Hasan doesn’t deny that he carried out the rampage, but military law prohibits him from entering a guilty plea because authorities are seeking the death penalty. If he is convicted and sentenced to death in a trial that starts Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013, there are likely years, if not decades, of appeals ahead. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)

  • Fort Hood Shooting

    FILE- In this Nov. 10, 2009, file photo, soldiers salute as they honor victims of the Fort Hood shooting at a memorial service at Fort Hood, Texas. Maj. Nidal Hasan is charged in the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood that left 13 dead and more than 30 others wounded. Hasan doesn’t deny that he carried out the rampage, but military law prohibits him from entering a guilty plea because authorities are seeking the death penalty. If he is convicted and sentenced to death in a trial that starts Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013, there are likely years, if not decades, of appeals ahead. (AP Photo/Donna McWilliam, File)

  • Fort Hood Shooting

    FILE - This June 11, 2013, file courtroom sketch shows U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, right, sitting by his former defense attorneys Maj. Joseph Marcee, far left, and Lt. Col. Kris Poppe, center, during a hearing at Fort Hood, Texas. Hasan is charged in the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood that left 13 dead and more than 30 others wounded. Hasan doesn’t deny that he carried out the rampage, but military law prohibits him from entering a guilty plea because authorities are seeking the death penalty. If he is convicted and sentenced to death in a trial that starts Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013, there are likely years, if not decades, of appeals ahead. (AP Photo/Brigitte Woosley, File)

  • John Rossi, Steven Braverman

    FILE- In this Nov. 6, 2009, file photo, Col. (P) John Rossi, Deputy Commander General of Fires and Effects, and Col. Steven Braverman, Commander of Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, address reporters during a news conference following a mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas. Maj. Nidal Hasan is charged in the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood that left 13 dead and more than 30 others wounded. Hasan doesn’t deny that he carried out the rampage, but military law prohibits him from entering a guilty plea because authorities are seeking the death penalty. If he is convicted and sentenced to death in a trial that starts Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013, there are likely years, if not decades, of appeals ahead. (AP Photo/Killeen Daily Herald, David Morris, File)

  • Fort Hood Shooting

    FILE- In this Nov. 5, 2009, file image released by the U.S. Army, emergency workers prepare the wounded for transport in waiting ambulances near Fort Hood's Soldier Readiness Processing Center in Fort Hood, Texas. Maj. Nidal Hasan is charged in the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood that left 13 dead and more than 30 others wounded. Hasan doesn’t deny that he carried out the rampage, but military law prohibits him from entering a guilty plea because authorities are seeking the death penalty. If he is convicted and sentenced to death in a trial that starts Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013, there are likely years, if not decades, of appeals ahead. (AP Photo/U.S. Army, Jeramie Sivley, File)

  • Fort Hood Shooting

    The Lawrence H. Williams Judicial Center is shown behind a protective barrier as jury selection begins, Tuesday, July 9, 2013, in Fort Hood, Texas. An Army psychiatrist going on trial in the deadly 2009 Fort Hood shooting wants to tell potential jurors that he's being forced to wear a military uniform he believes represents "an enemy of Islam," he told a judge Tuesday. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • Nidal Hasan, Kris Pope, Tara Osborn, Larry Downend, Mike Mulligan, Steven Henricks

    In this courtroom sketch, U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, left sitting, sits by his former defense attorney, Lt. Col. Kris Poppe, left rear, as Judge Tara Osborn, behind bench, watches prosecutor Maj. Larry Downend, standing, question potential jurors with fellow prosecutors Col. Mike Mulligan, center front, and Col. Steven Henricks, right, looking on, Tuesday, July 9, 2013, in Fort Hood, Texas. Hasan faces execution or life without parole if convicted in the 2009 rampage that killed 13 and wounded nearly three dozen on the Texas Army post. (AP Photo/Brigitte Woosley)

  • Tara Osborn, Nidal Hasan, Joseph Marcee, Kris Poppe

    In this courtroom sketch, U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, right, sits by his former defense attorneys Maj. Joseph Marcee, far left, and Lt. Col. Kris Poppe, center, with Judge, Col. Tara Osborn, behind the bench during a pretrial hearing, Tuesday, July 9, 2013, in Fort Hood, Texas. Jury selection is set to start Tuesday in the long-awaited murder trial of Hasan, the Army psychiatrist accused of opening fire with a semi-automatic gun at Fort Hood nearly four years ago. (AP Photo/Brigitte Woosley)

  • Fort Hood Shooting

    Television cameramen walk by a Fort Hood Police Mobile Command Center near the Lawrence H. WIlliams Judicial Center as a pretrial hearing gets underway, Tuesday, July 9, 2013, in Fort Hood, Texas. Jury selection is set to start Tuesday in the long-awaited murder trial of Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan, accused of opening fire with a semi-automatic gun at Fort Hood nearly four years ago. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • Nidal Hasan

    FILE - In this Dec. 18, 2012 courtroom sketch, U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, center foreground with back showing, is seen sitting between members of is defense team during a hearing in Fort Hood, Texas. The Army psychiatrist charged in the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood is paralyzed from the waist down, after being shot by police that day. A judge has permitted him to represent himself at trial, but his compromised health means that his upcoming court martial will have shorter periods of testimony, more breaks and possible lengthy delays to write legal motions. (AP Photo/Brigitte Woosley, File)

  • Fort Hood Shooting

    FILE - In this Nov. 10, 2009, file photo, a memorial to victims of the Fort Hood shooting is shown before the start of a memorial service, to be attended by President Barack Obama, at Fort Hood, Texas. Osama bin Laden is dead and there hasn’t been a successful attack by al-Qaida-inspired extremists on U.S. soil since the deadly shooting rampage in Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009. But the danger of terrorism remains a reality for Americans, as seen in the attack in Libya in September that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. (AP Photo/Donna McWilliam, File)