(Updates with prosecutor asking jury for death penalty)
By Ellen Wulfhorst
FORT HOOD, Texas, Aug 28 (Reuters) - A prosecutor in the trial of U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan on Wednesday asked the jury to sentence him to death, saying he deserved to die for killing 13 people and wounding 31 others in a carefully planned attack at a Fort Hood medical facility in 2009.
"Because of what he did, who he did it to, where he did it and how he did it ... he should be dealt death," prosecutor Colonel Michael Mulligan said in a closing statement to the jury.
The military jury of 13 officers who convicted Hasan of the shootings of mostly unarmed soldiers at the Fort Hood military base in central Texas will soon begin deliberations to decide his punishment.
The jury could sentence him to death or to life in prison. Judge Colonel Tara Osborn said she would instruct them on the full range of potential punishments, as mild as reprimand or military dismissal.
Hasan opened fire in a medical center on the base, one of the largest in the United States, on November 5, 2009, just weeks before he was to be deployed to Afghanistan.
He said in his opening statement on Aug. 6 that he was the gunman and had switched sides in what he considered to be a U.S. war on Islam. An Army psychiatrist, he has said nothing since in court as to his motives. Hasan on Wednesday declined his last chance to make a statement in open court.
"I have no closing statement," Hasan said.
Prosecutor Colonel Michael Mulligan asked the jury before deliberations to sentence him to die for his crimes.
"He was trained as a doctor to save lives, but on Nov. 5, he dealt death," Mulligan said.
The 13 murder victims were soldiers, officers, non-commissioned officers, enlisted and retired, he said.
If the jury of 11 white men, one white woman and one black woman unanimously recommends death, Hasan could face lethal injection, possibly making him the first U.S. soldier to be executed by the U.S. military since 1961.
Standby defense attorneys for Hasan attempted on Tuesday to present so-called mitigating evidence to argue for a life sentence, instead of the death penalty, including details on his background, family life, education, military experience and logs of his behavior in jail.
But Hasan objected to the effort on his behalf, telling the judge he had "overzealous defense counsel."
The judge ruled in Hasan's favor, saying: "Major Hasan is the captain of his own ship."
An American-born Muslim, Hasan earlier told mental health evaluators he wanted to become a martyr, and lawyers assisting him have said he was actively seeking the death penalty.
Hasan, 42, has disputed that claim.
Discussions in court about Hasan making little or no effort to argue for his life have taken took place without the jury present.
Hasan, 42, who uses a wheelchair after being paralyzed when shot by police to end the rampage, was convicted on Friday of 45 counts of premeditated murder and attempted premeditated murder.
Twenty family members and victims gave evidence during the prosecution's side of the sentencing phase, recounting heart wrenching stories about their loss, grief and efforts to rebuild their lives.
A death sentence for Hasan would mean the start of a lengthy process requiring the approval of the Fort Hood commanding general, and the U.S. president, in order for there to be an execution. (Additional reporting by Jana J. Pruet; Editing by Paul Thomasch)