Accused Fort Hood massacre shooter to seek another delay
SAN ANTONIO, Texas |
SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Reuters) - Accused Fort Hood gunman Nidal Hasan, charged with shooting 13 fellow troops to death and wounding 31 others in a 2009 rampage, will ask that his military trial be delayed for a third time, until December, an Army spokesman said on Monday.
Fort Hood spokesman Christopher Haug said Hasan's attorneys were expected to ask Trial Judge Colonel Gregory Gross to postpone the trial until December, which would be the third postponement if granted.
Hasan's attorneys have not said yet why they would seek another delay. The trial was postponed previously because Hasan switched attorneys and because his new lawyers asked for more time to prepare his defense.
Gross was also expected to rule on whether Hasan's defense team can have a neurologist appointed at government expense to testify. Hasan, a U.S. Army psychiatrist, was originally scheduled to stand trial in March on premeditated murder and attempted murder charges.
Hasan was paralyzed from the chest down when he was shot by two Fort Hood police officers to end the November 5, 2009, shooting spree. He could become the first U.S. soldier to be executed following a U.S. military proceeding in more than 50 years.
Witnesses have said Hasan shouted "Allahu Akbar" - Arabic for "God is Greatest" - and then fired on soldiers having health checks as they prepared for deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan.
When Hasan was in court earlier this month, he appeared with a beard, which is a violation of Army regulations.
Gross ordered Hasan removed and told him that unless he shaves off his beard, he would be forced to follow court proceedings from an adjacent room on closed circuit television.
The defense team is trying to keep Hasan from being executed, a goal Hasan may not share, retired Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Addicott, a former military judge advocate and head of the Center for Terrorism Law at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, said in an interview.
"He murdered 13 people, he wanted to die that day," Addicott said. He said Hasan had sent an e-mail to al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki, who has since been killed in Yemen, saying, "I can't wait to join you in the afterlife."
The shooting spree was among incidents that have renewed concerns over the threat of homegrown Islamist militants.
A jury last month convicted another U.S. soldier of attempting to build a bomb and use it to blow up a restaurant near Fort Hood.
Private First Class Naser Jason Abdo, 22, was arrested last July after a tip from a gun store owner alarmed by Abdo's befuddled attempts to purchase smokeless gunpowder and weapons.
Abdo yelled "Nidal Hasan, Fort Hood 2009!" as he was being led out of court during one hearing.
(Reporting By Jim Forsyth; editing by Andrew Stern and Todd Eastham)
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