Hasan’s Fort Hood Victims: 13, or 14?

The Alliance Defense Fund has been calling on the US military to charge Maj Nadil Malik Hasan with 14 murders, not 13.  

Private Francheska Velez was three months pregnant when Hasan allegedly killed her and her unborn child.  If her child was included, the massacre would have claimed 14 lives.

The ADF accurately notes that the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) reflects the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, and specifically cites the death of unborn children during the commission of a crime–at any point in the term–as a crime:

44a. Article 119a.–Death or injury of an unborn child
a. Text of statute.
     (a)(1) Any person subject to this chapter who engages in conduct that violates any of the provisions of law listed in subsection (b) and thereby causes the death of, or bodily injury (as defined in section 1365 of title 18) to, a child, who is in utero at the time the conduct takes place, is guilty of a separate offense under this section and shall, upon conviction, be punished by such punishment, other than death, as a court-martial may direct, which shall be consistent with the punishments prescribed by the President for that conduct had that injury or death occurred to the unborn child’s mother.
     (2) An offense under this section does not require proof that—
          (i) the person engaging in the conduct had knowledge or should have had knowledge that the victim of the underlying offense was pregnant; or
          (ii) the accused intended to cause the death of, or bodily injury to, the unborn child.

While the ADF does have a point, it is noteworthy that the military has charged Hasan only with 13 counts of the capital crime of pre-meditated murder.  He has not been charged with attempted murder, assault, or any other lesser crime, even though there were 31 other victims wounded.  In that vein, the UCMJ specifically states that causing the death of an unborn child is not a capital offense.

(4) Not withstanding any other provision of law, the death penalty shall not be imposed for an offense under this section.

Therefore, while the additional charge would acknowledge the death of the child, it would not substantially impact the current criminal proceedings.  The Army has said additional charges may be filed, and the ADF hopes that causing the child’s death will be among them.

Regardless of legal details, it is absolutely true that 14 people–not 13–died in the Fort Hood massacre.

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