• December 19, 2014

Hasan held in contempt again

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Posted: Wednesday, August 8, 2012 12:00 pm | Updated: 2:13 pm, Thu Jan 23, 2014.

By Philip Jankowski

Fort Hood Herald

A judge again held accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan in contempt of court Friday for refusing to shave his beard.

Military Judge Col. Gregory Gross fined Hasan $1,000 for the second straight hearing for disobeying a court order to be clean-shaven at all court proceedings.

Gross has indicated he may have Hasan shaved by force for future hearings or his upcoming court-martial, scheduled to start Aug. 20.

Hasan has been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder stemming from the Nov. 5, 2009, mass shooting on post. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

Hasan has refused to shave for court since early June, citing religious reasons. Gross has continually barred him from the courtroom and ordered the Army psychiatrist to watch hearings on closed-circuit television.

Gross remanded Hasan to a trailer placed next to the Fort Hood courthouse, but not before giving Hasan a chance to shave his beard.

Hasan, 41, conferred with his government-appointed lead defense counsel briefly, repeatedly shaking his head before Lt. Col. Kris R. Poppe indicated that Hasan again refused to shave.

After a brief recess, Gross ruled on several motions that indicated how certain aspects of the court-martial will take place.

Requests granted for certain experts pointed toward a defense strategy that may use Hasan's Islamic faith as a portion of a mental health defense.

The judge granted the defense $17,500 to be used to pay a psychology professor who has authored books on religious conversion to testify and consult during the court-martial.

Gross also ordered the government to pay $8,842 for a defense expert on social science methodology they intend to use to rebut prosecution witness Evan Kohlmann, who has called Hasan a "home-grown terrorist."

Lawyers for both sides will argue over whether any testimony from Kohlmann will be allowed during the trial at the hearing scheduled Thursday.

Defense requests also shed light on how a lengthy jury selection process may take shape.

The defense requested on Friday to interview each of the prospective panel of jurors individually prior to seating a jury.

An estimated pool of more than 100 commissioned officers from across the nation have been identified as possible candidates. The number actually brought to Fort Hood when the trial begins will likely shrink; however, selecting a panel could take weeks.

Hasan's lead defense counsel asked the judge to allow for the defense and prosecution to take turns in the order they question potential jurors, though traditionally the prosecution goes first.

"Under no stretch of the imagination can this be considered a normal case," Poppe said.

He said in the interest of fairness, the two sides should take turns. Prosecutor Maj. Larry Downend said Poppe's request went beyond what was necessary.

"The government agrees to fairness," Downend said. "But (Hasan) is not entitled to a favorable trial, to a perfect trial."

Gross did not issue a ruling Friday.

Among questions the defense may pose to potential jurors is whether they had any instruction at the Joint Staff Forces College in Virginia, where an anti-Islam course recently was taught.

The defense sought access to any roster of officers who may have seen a presentation at the college that advocated total war against Islam. The author of the presentation has since been dismissed from the college.

Gross said he was inclined to deny the defense's request, "You can ask the panel members themselves," the judge said.

Gross did rule on several motions for discovery. He denied the defense access to classified reports and documents from the FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Contact Philip Jankowski at philipj@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.

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