orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

State News

July 2, 2013

Judge reviews Fort Hood suspect's jury questions

FORT HOOD, Texas — The Army psychiatrist charged in the deadly 2009 Fort Hood shootings can ask potential jurors if they would consider punishment other than execution for someone who killed for religious reasons, a judge said Wednesday.

Maj. Nidal Hasan, who is serving as his own attorney, also can ask potential jurors if they would consider remorse — or a lack thereof — in determining a convicted murderer's punishment, the judge ruled. Jury selection in his court-martial is to begin July 9 and last at least four weeks.

Hasan, an American-born Muslim, faces the death penalty or life without parole if convicted of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the massacre on the Texas Army post.

At a hearing Tuesday, the judge, Col. Tara Osborn, rejected about a third of the 100-plus questions Hasan wanted to ask military jurors. Osborn read only a few of them aloud in court.

One question she rejected referred to other mass shootings and the Boston Marathon bombings. She also said Hasan can't ask if the jury pool feels that killing 12 soldiers and a retired soldier was a "horrific act."

Osborn threw out all of Hasan's questions related to his "defense of others" strategy she previously barred him from using. It means that a killing was necessary to prevent the immediate harm or death of others. Hasan recently told the judge he killed U.S. troops at the Army post because they posed an imminent threat to Taliban leaders in Afghanistan.

Osborn also refused Hasan's request for a delay to hire an attorney. Hasan said Ramsey Clark — who served as U.S. attorney general under President Lyndon Johnson and as a lawyer for the dictators Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic — offered to represent him after hearing about his proposed "defense of others" strategy.

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