• October 30, 2014

Hasan defense team asks for postponement of trial

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Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 12:00 pm | Updated: 2:13 pm, Thu Jan 23, 2014.

By Philip Jankowski

Fort Hood Herald

A military judge is considering a defense request to postpone the June trial of accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan until October.

Defense counsel Lt. Col. Kris Poppe said his team still needs to review 90,000 pages of documents provided by the prosecution during a pre-trial hearing April 10.

"The volume of discovery is, quite frankly, staggering," said Poppe, who told the court 220,000 pages have been provided since the beginning of the year and 7,000 pages in the previous week.

If the June 12 trial date stands, Poppe said defense attorneys would not have time to review all of the documents. He said the team also needs to interview 160 witnesses the prosecution might call as well as 42 possible witnesses for the defense.

Presiding judge Col. Gregory Gross didn't provide a timeline for when he would decide on the defense's motion for a second continuance. In a previous defense request, the judge agreed to postpone Hasan's court-martial from March to June.

Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder related to the Nov. 5, 2009, mass shooting at Fort Hood's Soldier Readiness Processing Center. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

During the hearing, the judge denied a defense motion seeking government funding to pay for a victims' outreach worker to aid family members of those killed in the shooting.

"In a nutshell, I find you have not shown necessity," said Gross.

Defense attorney Maj. Christopher E. Martin brought three witnesses to the stand, including an official who would have served as the outreach staffer, known in the criminal justice community as Defense-Initiated Victims' Outreach. Employed by the defense, the outreach staffer would have worked indirectly with attorneys.

Stephanie Frogge, with the Institute for Restorative Justice and Restorative Dialogue at the University of Texas, testified she would have sent a letter to family members of victims to let them know they could ask the defense questions.

Although Frogge phrased the work of an outreach staffer as assistance for victims, questions arose whether her work served as an anti-death penalty advocate.

Frogge's colleague, Marilyn Armour, testified that the outreach program's ultimate goal would be to give a victim more choices in punishment besides death.

Prosecutor Lt. Col. Steve Henricks said the institute was essentially focused on anti-death penalty advocacy and introduced evidence showing that noted advocate, George Soros, had provided grant funding to the organization.

Prosecution witness, Lubbock County victim's advocate Pam Alexander, testified that Frogge specifically retraumatized the wife of a victim in a capital murder case by contacting her. "They know nothing about the family, and they revictimize the family," she testified.

Alexander and a victim's assistance coordinator from Brazos County both testified that they believed the institute was anti-death penalty.

During arguments on the motion, Henricks said the only purpose of an outreach worker was to have victims decide that capital punishment is not acceptable. "It's a psychological operation by the defense," he said.

The judge also denied the defense's request for production communications between President Barack Obama and other top officials regarding Hasan.

Contact Philip Jankowski at philipj@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7553.

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