Share This Page

Court-martial in Fort Hood base rampage set for May

| Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, 9:15 p.m.

FORT HOOD, Texas — The Army psychiatrist charged in the deadly 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage is to go on trial in three months, capping several delays, including an unexpected snag over his beard.

A military judge on Thursday set Maj. Nidal Hasan's court-martial for May 29 at the Texas Army post. After about four weeks of jury selection, testimony is to begin July 1.

The judge, Col. Tara Osborn, said she expects testimony to last up to three months. The government has nearly 300 witnesses.

Hasan, 42, faces the death penalty or life without parole if convicted of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the worst mass shooting on a U.S. military installation.

Hasan's trial initially was set for last March, then delayed to June and then to August when defense attorneys said they needed more time to prepare. Less than a week before it was to start, the trial unexpectedly was put on hold when Hasan appealed an order by then-judge Col. Gregory Gross that his beard would be forcibly shaved unless he removed it before trial. Although facial hair violates Army rules, Hasan started growing a beard last summer, saying it was required by his Muslim faith.

Hasan appealed again in September after Gross issued a definitive, written order for the forced shaving. Proceedings resumed in December after the appeals court ousted Gross from the case and threw out his order.

Osborn, the new judge, won't order Hasan to shave. If he still has a beard at trial, jurors likely would be told not to consider his appearance when deciding on a verdict.

Osborn didn't rule Thursday on defense requests to select jurors from another military branch instead of the Army — an unprecedented action for a court-martial — or to move the trial away from Fort Hood.

Lt. Col. Kris Poppe, lead defense attorney, said his client could not get a fair trial at Fort Hood because of rampant hostility, such as the extreme security measures that seem to indicate Hasan is a target or is dangerous. He also said jurors should come from the Navy or Air Force because Army officers had been exposed to more pretrial publicity about the case.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.