News / USA

Defense Lawyer: Fort Hood Shooter Wants Death Penalty

Nidal Malik Hasan is pictured in an undated police handout photograph.
Nidal Malik Hasan is pictured in an undated police handout photograph.
Greg Flakus
The trial of accused Fort Hood, Texas, shooter Major Nidal Hasan came to a halt Wednesday when the three standby defense attorneys assisting him told the judge Hasan is trying to get the death penalty.  The judge may have to reconsider her previous decision to allow Hasan to defend himself.

Defense attorneys appointed by the court to help defend Major Hasan asked presiding Judge Colonel Tara Osborn to modify their role because they say the defendant is actively seeking conviction and the death penalty. Lead defense attorney Lieutenant Colonel Kris Poppe said they should not be forced to assist him in achieving that.

Hasan expressed disagreement with the assessment by his attorneys, and Judge Osborn said she found their request confusing.  She told the attorneys who had described Hasan's performance in court as "repugnant" and "inadequate" that it could be that they just disagree with his strategy. Osborn then ordered a recess until Thursday so she could consider the matter.

Jeffrey Addicott, a military law expert at the Center for Terrorism Law at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, says the attorneys are probably right about Hasan wanting to be executed, but adds the attorneys must also think of their professional responsibility to prevent the death penalty from  being imposed on their client.

"Their very role is to protect his rights, so instead of suggesting things to Hasan, which they could as standby counsel, I believe that they are asking the judge, 'Look, we are just going to be standby, if he wants to ask us a question, we will respond to that, but we don't want to participate in a circus,"' said Addicott.

In early June, Judge Osborn granted Hasan's request to defend himself, but required his legal team to remain in court on standby to assist him with procedural questions and research.  Not having such assistance available, legal experts say, could open the way for a possible appeal later, even though Hasan chose to defend himself.  But, if the judge agrees that Hasan's handling of his own defense has been faulty, she could reverse her previous decision and bring the appointed lawyers back to full duty.

Hasan has not followed a standard defense strategy.  Several weeks ago, he asked for, and was denied, permission to use a "defense of others" argument that the shooting was justified as an attack on soldiers who were, in his view, fighting against Islam in Afghanistan and Iraq.  In court on Tuesday, he admitted to having committed the crime and asked few questions of witnesses in cross-examination.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid