The Army psychiatrist charged in the shooting rampage that killed 13 people in 2009 at Fort Hood, Texas, has lost a bid to have the death penalty taken off the table at his trial.
A military judge denied the request from American-born Muslim Major Nidal Hasan who wants to enter a guilty plea to murder charges. But military law does not permit people to plead guilty to a capital offense.
Hasan was paralyzed after being shot by police the day of the rampage. He sat in a wheelchair wearing a thick black beard Wednesday during the first of three days of pretrial hearings.
Hasan is also charged with 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder and faces execution or life in military prison without parole if convicted. A trial date has not been set.
His trial was to start in August, but was delayed when Hasan appealed a former judge's order to shave his beard before the court-martial. Facial hair violates Army rules, but Hasan first appeared in court with a beard in June, and later said it is part of his Muslim identity.
The new judge said she does not have authority to make a decision about the beard.