Fort Hood suspect plans to represent self

2013-05-29 15:03
Nidal Hasan, the army psychiatrist charged in the deadly 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage. (Bell County Sheriff's Department/ AP)

Nidal Hasan, the army psychiatrist charged in the deadly 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage. (Bell County Sheriff's Department/ AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

San Antonio - Accused Fort Hood gunman Major Nidal Hasan will ask a US military court on Wednesday to rule he can represent himself at his trial in just over a month which could bring the death penalty on charges he killed 13 people in a 2009 shooting rampage.

Jury selection in Hasan's military trial at Fort Hood was delayed until next week after he asked the judge, Colonel Tara Osborn, to let him fire his lawyers and represent himself. The trial is scheduled to start on 1 July.

Hasan is accused of opening fire on a group of soldiers who were preparing to deploy to Iraq in November 2009 in the worst shooting rampage on a US military post. In addition to the 13 people who died, 32 others were wounded.

Two civilian Fort Hood police officers shot Hasan, ending the rampage and leaving the Army psychiatrist paralysed from the chest down. He faces a possible death sentence if convicted of premeditated murder.

Osborn has little choice but to grant Hasan's request to represent himself under US law, which could pose problems for prosecutors and create more avenues for appeal, the military law experts said. She is likely to appoint lawyers to assist Hasan.

"It is going to prolong everything and will make everything more difficult, all throughout the process," said Victor M Hansen, a professor at the New England School of Law in Boston and a former Army defence attorney.

Beard debate

Military law experts said the move could make Hasan's court martial more challenging for prosecutors and painful for witnesses who may be questioned by the man accused of wounding them, or killing their family members.

"It is hard enough for the victim of an attempted murder or the family member of someone who has been murdered, to come into a courtroom and sit across the room from a man who they are convinced did this," said Geoffrey Corn, a retired lieutenant colonel and veteran Army prosecutor.

Osborn has sought to get the trial on track after delays caused by a debate over whether Hasan, who is a Muslim, should be required to shave his beard to comply with military rules. Osborn set the issue aside and Hasan has continued to appear in court with a full beard.

Hasan has indicated a willingness to plead guilty to the charges if prosecutors drop the death penalty. Under military law, he cannot plead guilty to a death penalty case.

Hasan has said little about what motivated the shootings, but an FBI-commissioned report in 2012 said he had exchanged emails with militant Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in the year before the attack, and witnesses said they heard him shout in Arabic "God is greatest" just before opening fire at Fort Hood.

Awlaki, a US citizen born in New Mexico, was killed in a US drone strike in Yemen in 2011.

Read more on:    us  |  fort hood shooting

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.