FORT HOOD — Accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan renewed a request Thursday to limit what kind of testimony victims will be allowed to give during his sentencing.
Hasan’s standby counsel, Lt. Col. Kris Poppe, asked the judge to make the prosecution provide summaries of what they believe victims will say when put on the stand for Hasan’s sentencing.
The Army psychiatrist could face the death penalty if convicted of numerous charges of premeditated murder stemming from the Nov. 5, 2009, mass shooting on post.
Arguing at the request of Hasan for the first time in weeks, Poppe said studies indicate the often emotional testimony victims give before sentencing leads juries to assess the death penalty more often.
Poppe argued Hasan needs access to what their testimony should be in order to object to any of their comments that could prejudice a jury.
The issue appeared to revolve around the prosecution’s repeated attempts to admit evidence that pointed toward Hasan being a terrorist.
Lead prosecutor Col. Mike Mulligan said any testimony from the family members of victims will be limited to the scope of their loss, making a note that neither those witnesses nor the prosecution label Hasan as a terrorist.
“They will not call Maj. Hasan the ‘t-word’ and neither will any of us,” Mulligan said.
The prosecution will call at least one family member for each of the 13 people killed during the shooting. Mulligan said he also will call some of the most seriously wounded survivors during sentencing.
Judge Col. Tara Osborn reserved ruling on the request.
Osborn also gave Hasan advice on the semantics of his opening statement. Hasan has attempted to tell potential jurors he committed the shooting.
However, Osborn said those statements amount to testimony, which can only be made if he calls himself to the stand.
“You could say, ‘The evidence will show that I am the shooter,’ but you cannot say ‘I am the shooter,’” Osborn said.
Hasan thanked the judge for the advice and said he would try to phrase his opening statement to her suggestions.
Thursday’s hearing was the first of several scheduled to keep the start of testimony on track. Hearings are set every Thursday until Aug. 6. Osborn also scheduled an Aug. 5 hearing to seat a jury and possibly conduct supplemental juror interviews.
To prepare for the possibility that a juror may be disqualified between now and the trial’s start, five additional potential jurors will be brought in on the eve of trial.
Contact Philip Jankowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.