Judge to rule on Fort Hood murder suspect's trial delay request

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 04, 2013 12:04 PM

By Jim Forsyth

SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - A U.S. military judge is expected to rule on Tuesday whether to grant a request by Fort Hood shooting suspect Major Nidal Hasan to again postpone his court martial following repeated delays since the 2009 shooting.

Jury selection was set for Wednesday.

The Army psychiatrist, 42, is charged with 13 counts of first-degree murder after he allegedly opened fire on a group of soldiers preparing to deploy from Fort Hood, Texas to the Middle East in November 2009. More than 30 people were wounded. Hasan could face the death penalty if found guilty.

The judge, Colonel Tara Osborn, granted Hasan the right to act as his own lawyer on Monday and he said he plans to mount a "defense of others" argument.

That means Hasan, a U.S.-born Muslim, is likely to argue that he shot the soldiers to defend the lives of Muslims in the Middle East, said Jeffrey Addicott, a former legal expert to the Army Special Forces.

Hasan asked for a three-month postponement, saying he needed to change his defense strategy and revise his witness list.

He has already been granted two delays, and last year the question of whether he should be allowed to wear a beard in the courtroom in violation of Army grooming regulations resulted in a six-month delay. Osborn has put that issue aside.

(Editing by Corrie MacLaggan and Leslie Gevirtz)