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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid