April 4, 2012 / 8:50 PM / 8 years ago

Accused Fort Hood massacre shooter seeks court martial delay

Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the U.S. Army psychiatrist charged in a mass shooting at the U.S. Army post in Fort Hood, Texas, is seen in this undated file handout photo obtained on November 6, 2009. REUTERS/Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences/Handout

(Reuters) - The U.S. Army psychiatrist charged with killing 13 people and wounding 31 in a November 2009 shooting rampage at the sprawling Fort Hood Army post in central Texas on Wednesday requested another delay in his court martial.

Major Nidal Hasan is set to stand trial in June, but Major Joseph Marcee, Hasan’s military attorney, asked the trial judge to push back the court martial until October. Marcee was just appointed to replace Hasan’s former military attorney, who withdrew from the case.

Trial Judge Colonel Gregory Gross set a hearing for Tuesday on the request for a delay. The trial was previously set to begin in March but in February a judge agreed to a defense request for a delay and set the June date.

Hasan faces a possible death sentence if convicted of the shooting spree. Gross on Wednesday rejected a motion to dismiss execution as a possible sentence in the case.

Hasan, who was paralyzed from the chest down when he was shot by two Fort Hood police officers to end the rampage, appeared in the courtroom for the hearing. He is being held in a special hospital cell in the Bell County Jail, about 15 miles from the post.

Gross declined a defense request to pre-admit numerous pieces of evidence in advance of the court martial, mainly 911 calls and videos from police cars at the scene of the shooting. The judge ruled he will consider all evidence on a piece by piece basis during the court martial.

The judge also granted a motion by Hasan’s attorneys to appoint a forensic expert to examine autopsy reports on behalf of the defense.

Also next week, the judge will consider the appointment of a victim outreach specialist to work with prospective witnesses at the court martial who might be nervous about facing Hasan again in the courtroom. Gross, however, denied a defense request to take statements from the post commander and the staff judge advocate, who is the military prosecutor in the case.

Editing by Dan Burns and Cynthia Osterman

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