News / USA

Fort Hood Shooting Suspect Seeks to Represent Himself in Trial

Undated file photo provided by the Bell County Sheriff's Department shows Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist charged in the deadly 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage.
Undated file photo provided by the Bell County Sheriff's Department shows Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist charged in the deadly 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage.
Greg Flakus
U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan, who is accused of killing 13 people in a shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas on November 5, 2009, has asked the judge presiding over his trial to allow him to represent himself.  Legal experts expect that the judge, Colonel Tara Osborn, will grant the request in a hearing Wednesday, but she also will explain the risks.

The news that Major Nidal Hasan has asked to represent himself in court was met by outrage and puzzlement in the Fort Hood community, home to many of the people whom he is accused of killing or wounding and their families.  Some fear it may be an antic meant to further delay the trial, but military law expert Geoffrey Corn, speaking to VOA by telephone from The South Texas College of Law, says Judge Osborn probably will grant the request.

"The judge really cannot deny the motion unless she determines that he doesn't understand what he is doing or that he has been pressured into doing it and I don't think she is going to find either of those factors," said Corn.

Corn says military courts, like civilian courts, are bound by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling affirming an accused person's right to defend himself.  Corn, however, says that in Wednesday's hearing, the judge will make it very clear to Major Hasan that he is taking a big risk and that his acceptance of that risk precludes an appeal.

"He cannot complain later that he did an ineffective job defending himself; he can't raise on appeal that he was ineffective," he said.

Some people in the community worry that Hasan will use his time before jurors for jihadist rants or to justify his actions in a twisted interpretation of Islam.  But Geoffrey Corn says the judge will require Hasan to adhere to the same standards of conduct that apply to prosecutors.

And, he adds, it is possible that Hasan has another strategy in mind - just sitting there and doing nothing.

"Maybe he is thinking the writing is on the wall and he is going to be convicted, he is going to be sentenced to death, so he is just going to create the perception that he is a victim and be a martyr in the eyes of segments of the international population that might be sympathetic to him."

Corn says the judge is likely to order the lawyers assigned to Hasan to remain in court on standby for the entire trial so that, if it becomes necessary, they can step back in without any need for her to declare a mistrial and start over.  If Hasan's request to defend himself is granted, jury selection could start as early as Thursday, although Corn says it is more likely to be put off until next Monday to give Hasan ample time to reconsider.

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