Judge bars key motive evidence in Fort Hood trial
By The Associated Press
Published: Monday, Aug. 19, 2013, 8:03 p.m.
FORT HOOD, Texas — A military judge blocked several key pieces of evidence on Monday that prosecutors said would explain the mindset of the soldier accused in the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, including his belief that he had a “jihad duty” to carry out the attack.
Prosecutors had asked the judge to approve several witnesses and various evidence to support what they allege motivated Maj. Nidal Hasan to carry out the attack, which killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 at the military base.
But the judge, Col. Tara Osborn, blocked nearly all of it.
Osborn barred any reference to Hasan Akbar, a Muslim soldier sentenced to death for attacking fellow soldiers in Kuwait during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Prosecutors wanted to suggest that Hasan, an American-born Muslim, carried out a “copycat” attack.
But the judge said introducing such material would “only open the door to a mini-trial” of Akbar and result in a “confusion of issues, unfair prejudice, waste of time and undue delay.”
The judge said prosecutors couldn't introduce three emails, ruling that the needed redactions would make them irrelevant. The contents of the emails weren't disclosed, but the FBI has said Hasan sent numerous emails starting in December 2008 to Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical, U.S.-born Islamic cleric killed by a drone strike in Yemen in 2011.
However, the judge will allow evidence about Internet searches on Hasan's computer around the time of the attack and websites that Hasan had listed as favorites.
Military prosecutors have said they would show that Hasan felt he had a “jihad duty,” referring to a Muslim term for a religious war or struggle. Prosecutors have called almost 80 witnesses so far, but they weren't expected to begin tackling his motive until this week.
Hasan — who is acting as his own attorney but mostly has sat in silence — could soon shed light on such questions, if prosecutors rest their case as expected this week.
In a rare move, Hasan spoke up on Monday, first to challenge the government's definition of “jihad” and, for the first time since the day testimony began, to question a witness.
Hasan briefly cross-examined Staff Sgt. Juan Alvarado, who saw a gunfight between Hasan and Kimberly Munley, one of the Fort Hood police officers who responded to the shootings. Alvarado said Hasan tried to shoot Munley after she had been shot and disarmed.
“Are you saying — and I don't want to put words in your mouth — are you saying that after it was clear that she was disarmed, I continued to fire at her?” Hasan asked.
Alvarado said that was correct.
The exchange marked the first time Hasan has questioned a witness of the shooting.
Earlier, Hasan asked that the definition of “jihad” be adjusted. Prosecutors didn't object, and jurors were told it was defined as “under Islam, the central doctrine that calls on believers to combat enemies of the religious belief.”
Hasan has spoken rarely during the trial. The judge once again urged Hasan to forgo representing himself and to allow trained attorneys to take over.
Show commenting policy
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.
- Boehner’s rant brings budget deal
- House OKs slashing contractor salary cap nearly in half; Senate likely to follow suit
- New wife pleads guilty in husband’s cliff death
- Defense bill gets House OK, deals with sexual assault
- Fawcett bling tops Kelly’s ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ suit
- Feds to collect public comment on plan to permit cellphone service on airplanes
- 52 unsafe bus lines closed in federal crackdown
- Bipartisan Senate bill would put kibosh on pricey portraits
- Plane crash kills Hawaii official in Obama’s ‘birther’ fuss
- Feds join battle against citrus disease putting Fla. crop in peril
- Mich. hunter details being trapped for week in Alaska wilderness