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

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid