News / USA

Judge Clears Path for Fort Hood Shooting Trial to Start Next Week

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
At a hearing in a Fort Hood, Texas courtroom, the judge in the trial of U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan cleared the way for the trial to begin on Tuesday, July 9, with jury selection. Hasan is charged with murdering 13 people and attempting to kill 32 others in a shooting spree at the Texas army base in November 2009. Any further delays are unlikely.

The presiding judge in the trial of Major Nidal Hasan, Colonel Tara Osborn, swept away several issues at the hearing and also put in a plea of "not guilty" for Hasan since he did not formally enter a plea. Since this is a capital murder case in which the death penalty could be imposed, military law does not allow for a guilty plea.

Former military attorney Lisa Windsor, who now works for the Tully Rinckey law firm in Washington, DC, says the accused soldier probably cannot prevent the trial from starting next Tuesday.

"I think that there is a very good chance that this will now happen. I think that he has exhausted all his mechanisms for delay," said Windsor.

Hasan asked for a three-day delay so that he could hire former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark as his civilian lawyer in the trial.  However, Judge Osborn rejected that request, calling it untimely. Hasan already has appointed attorneys to assist him, but at a previous hearing he requested and was granted permission to defend himself.

Other issues Judge Osborn addressed involve the jury selection process and the evidence to be presented. Lisa Windsor says there is a great deal of evidence in this case, but the judge will not let the prosecution use everything it has.

"There could be some pretty grisly evidence here - photos and video tapes. But it looks like the accused had no objection to that as long as it was not cumulative - enough to give the jury an idea of what went on in the incident, but not so much that you are going to have jury members running out of the room," she said.

Even so, she says the trial will likely take at least a few weeks, perhaps even five or six weeks.

Some political commentators have complained about the many delays in the process. Nearly a year was spent trying to resolve the issue of Major Hasan's beard, which violates standard military dress code, but which he claims is a sign of his Muslim faith. Judge Osborn has ruled he can keep the beard and dress in fatigues rather than a dress uniform because he is paralyzed below the waist as a result of being wounded by police at the scene of the crime.

Some critics say the evidence against him is so overwhelming that the lengthy process was unnecessary. But Geoffrey Corn, a former military lawyer who now teaches at the South Texas School of Law, says the U.S. military justice system is fair and efficient.

"I don't think what has occurred in this case is radically different from the way we deal with any military defendant. Getting this case to trial has been complex, but it is starting to move now and I think as it goes through, people will see that this actually works pretty darn well," said Corn.

The prospective jurors are traveling to Fort Hood from other bases around the country so as to avoid using anyone on the jury who might be biased because of links to the victims or family members of victims. All the jurors on what the military system calls the panel must be of higher rank than the accused, but voting is done anonymously and it only takes one "not guilty" vote to acquit.

You May Like

Video Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had warned storm could be one of worst in city history More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid