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Accused Fort Hood shooter rests case without calling witnesses

Judge Col. Tara Osborn, top, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan and standby defense attorney, Lt. Col. Kris Poppe, left, in a courtroom sketch from Wednesday.
Judge Col. Tara Osborn, top, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan and standby defense attorney, Lt. Col. Kris Poppe, left, in a courtroom sketch from Wednesday.Brigitte Woosley via AP

The U.S. Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 fellow soldiers and wounding 31 others in a rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009 rested his defense case in his court-martial on Wednesday without calling any witnesses to testify. 

Maj. Nidal Hasan is acting as his own defense attorney on charges stemming from the shooting spree. 

Military judge Col. Tara Osborn asked Hasan if anyone had forced him into his decision to dispense with witnesses and rest his case. "No, ma'am," he replied. 

Osborn set closing arguments for Thursday. 

On Tuesday, military prosecutors rested their case in the capital murder court-martial of Hasan, an American-born Muslim who has admitted in court to being the shooter. He has said he switched sides in what he considered a U.S. war against Islam. 

Prosecutors called 89 witnesses in two weeks of testimony, with many describing in horrific detail the bloodbath in and around a medical building at Fort Hood on Nov. 5, 2009. 

Hasan, 42, had signaled he may not mount any defense. He passed up an opportunity on Tuesday to move for an immediate not-guilty verdict, which is within a defendant's rights after the prosecution has rested. 

Hasan faces 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of premeditated attempted murder for the 31 people injured plus one he shot at and missed. He could face the death penalty if all 13 officers on the jury find him guilty. 

He told mental health evaluators that he wanted to become a martyr, court documents show. Lawyers assisting him say he is seeking the death penalty, but he has disputed that claim. 

Shot by police during the incident, he is paralyzed from the waist down and attends court in a wheelchair. He has requested frequent breaks in the testimony for rest and for prayer.