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

South Korea Divided on Response to North’s Cyber Attack

In past five years, officials in Seoul have accused Pyongyang of hacking into banks, government websites, causing chaos and inflicting millions of dollars in damages More

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Bentiu

Residents have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy, but planning for the future remains uncertain as fear of attacks looms More

2015 Could Be Watershed for Syria Conflict

Republican control of US Senate in January could lead to more aggressive policy against IS militants in Syria - and against regime of Bashar al-Assad More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil Wari
X
Adam Bailes
December 22, 2014 3:45 PM
In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.

All About America

AppleAndroid