Judge blocks emails between Fort Hood shooter and militant cleric
FORT HOOD, Texas
FORT HOOD, Texas (Reuters) - Evidence purporting to show how U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan adopted a radical vision of Islam, including emails Hasan exchanged with American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, was blocked by a military judge on Monday at Hasan's court-martial for shooting dead 13 fellow soldiers.
Judge Colonel Tara Osborn barred testimony about the correspondence between Hasan and Awlaki, the U.S.-born militant who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011, and with other militants.
Hasan, acting as his own defense attorney, has admitted he opened fire at Fort Hood, Texas, on November 5, 2009, killing 13 and wounding 31, saying he switched sides in what he considered a U.S. war on Islam.
The judge banned some evidence dating to 2005, declaring it "too remote and subject to multiple interpretations." She also blocked another exchange as a "waste of time and unfair prejudice."
"Motive is not an element of crime, but can be relative to establish premeditation," Osborn said, telling prosecutors they could use evidence from the days closer to the shooting, such as Hasan's internet searches and emails.
Hasan could face the death penalty if all 13 officers on the jury find him guilty of premeditated murder.
The judge repeatedly reminded Hasan he would be better represented by a defense attorney, saying even a trained lawyer should not represent himself.
Hasan confirmed he understood and said he would continue as his own counsel.
More than 75 witnesses have testified in the court-martial over the past two weeks, many describing in horrific detail the bloodbath in and around a medical building at Fort Hood November 5, 2009.
Hasan, who was shot and paralyzed upon his arrest, attends court in a wheelchair and has rarely cross-examined witnesses. He has listed two potential defense witnesses for his case, which could start as soon as Tuesday.
(Editing by Daniel Trotta and Tim Dobbyn)
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