• December 26, 2014

Hasan trial is moving fast, but appeals await

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Sunday, August 11, 2013 4:30 am | Updated: 2:13 pm, Thu Jan 23, 2014.

Considering it took almost four years to bring accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan to trial, it’s more than a little surprising that court proceedings in the court-martial could wrap up in the next three weeks.

This is especially true, since prosecutors originally estimated the trial would take up to three months to conclude.

Initially, the prosecution announced plans to call about 270 witnesses to the stand to testify against Hasan, accused of killing 13 people and wounding 32 others in a shooting rampage at the post’s Soldier Readiness Processing Center in November 2009.

Last week, the number of prosecution witnesses was estimated at fewer than half the original number. As of Friday afternoon, 44 had been called. This is particularly noteworthy, since no witnesses were called Wednesday, when the presiding judge, Lt. Col. Tara Osborn, recessed the trial after receiving a request from Hasan’s standby defense counsel to be either reinstated or released from the case altogether.

At this point, a quick resolution to the trial would seem to be in the best interests of all involved.

Testimony from prosecution witnesses has been detailed and graphic, painting a vivid image of the chaos and the carnage at the shooting scene.

It was apparent early on that Hasan’s guilt was never in doubt. Indeed, the defendant gave an opening statement Tuesday, in which he said, “The evidence will clearly show that I am the shooter.”

So, at this point the only question is whether the jury of military officers will sentence Hasan to death — a punishment that requires unanimous agreement among the jurors.

Hasan’s former defense counsel, Lt. Col. Kris Poppe, told Osborn he believes the defendant is throwing his case in order to get the death penalty, though Hasan disagreed. Still, Osborn ordered counsel to continue representing Hasan on a standby basis.

The judge finds herself in a difficult position. She authorized Hasan to represent himself in the trial, as allowed by military law. That potentially opens the door to an appeal based on insufficient legal representation, though Osborn cautioned Hasan repeatedly about the risks of self-representation.

Osborn also warned Hasan that if he crossed the line of what was allowable during testimony, she would order his standby defense counsel to take over the case. With that in mind, she couldn’t accept the attorneys’ request to withdraw last week without derailing the trial.

Hasan has repeatedly challenged the court with his requests, including his wish to wear a beard in violation of military regulations. As with Hasan’s request for self-representation, the court’s rulings were no doubt influenced by the potential for an appeal if his requests were denied.

On other issues, however, Osborn denied Hasan’s requests, such as noting his objection to wearing an Army uniform in court. He also asked to present a “defense of others” strategy in court. But Osborn disallowed that strategy, ruling that defense failed as a matter of law.

Hasan has largely let the prosecution present its case without objection, which is largely why the trial is moving so quickly — and also why his counsel charged he is trying to throw the case.

If the death penalty is assessed in this trial, it may bring closure to the victims’ families and survivors of the Fort Hood shooting, but it may be a hollow victory.

The sentence will be appealed automatically, as in all military death-penalty cases. A further appeal could be filed on the basis of his self-representation and his defense counsel’s unwillingness to proceed on his behalf.

Considering that former Fort Hood soldier Dwight Loving is still awaiting execution for his 1989 murder conviction for the killing of two taxi drivers in Killeen, a quick execution for Hasan would be highly unlikely.

Hasan’s trial may, in fact, come to an end sooner than many expected, but the subsequent appeals are likely to continue for years to come.

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
  • 2 Don't Threaten or Abuse. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated. AND PLEASE TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
  • 3 Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
  • 4 Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 5 Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 6 Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Welcome to the discussion.

10 comments:

  • Baylor posted at 3:33 pm on Wed, Aug 14, 2013.

    Baylor Posts: 191

    The rodeo clown with obamas face has gained more attention than the coward murderer in Killeen Texas.

     
  • Alvin posted at 3:46 pm on Tue, Aug 13, 2013.

    Alvin Posts: 253

    Thank you for this insight.

     
  • Bubba posted at 8:52 am on Tue, Aug 13, 2013.

    Bubba Posts: 763

    "Forfeitures of pay and allowances adjudged as part of a
    court-martial sentence, or occurring by operation of Article 58b
    are effective 14 days after the sentence is adjudged or when the
    sentence is approved by the convening authority, whichever is
    earlier."

    Rule 1003,UCMJ

     
  • Alvin posted at 8:32 am on Tue, Aug 13, 2013.

    Alvin Posts: 253

    Listening to the news last night, I thought I heard the newscaster saying something about 'after 14 days' and that's all I was able to hear. What did that newscaster say in completeness?

     
  • Alvin posted at 4:21 pm on Mon, Aug 12, 2013.

    Alvin Posts: 253

    @JCO312: Much obliged for that answer. I appreciate it.

     
  • Bubba posted at 12:07 pm on Mon, Aug 12, 2013.

    Bubba Posts: 763

    There is no doubt that the accused is guilty as soon as the verdict of guilty is announced by the court. Until then, the accused is presumed innocent and has rights. Upon a finding of guilt and imposition of a sentence that includes a forfeiture of pay, then the basic pay of the accused would stop.

    Prior to trial, in pre-trial restraint, it is a violation of the rights of the accused, as well as the UCMJ, to impose punishment such as forfeiture of pay.

     
  • JCO312 posted at 11:26 am on Mon, Aug 12, 2013.

    JCO312 Posts: 1

    Alvin, if MAJ Hasan were convicted his pay and allowances would not continue, even pending appeal.

     
  • Alvin posted at 5:41 am on Mon, Aug 12, 2013.

    Alvin Posts: 253

    I agree, there is no doubt that he is guilty, but what I am interested in is 'if he is found guilty, does his pay stop?' I believe he has continued to receive his salary all through this, almost 4 years now. It now amasses close to, if not already exceeding $200,000.00. Now why does it seem logical to; 1) continue a person's pay while he is not convicted of a crime, and 2) if found guilty, continue a person's pay if found guilty, but appealing the conviction. This could continue for a number of years. This is my question. What about it?

     
  • Pete posted at 11:02 am on Sun, Aug 11, 2013.

    Pete Posts: 131

    Give him an honorable discharge and a bus ticket to his home of record. Nature will take its course, whether it is because he no longer gets medical treatment for his paralysis or his is executed as he executed 13 others. Time, money and heartache for all involved saved and problem solved. Too late for that now though huh?

     
  • Bubba posted at 10:56 am on Sun, Aug 11, 2013.

    Bubba Posts: 763

    "It was apparent early on that Hasan’s guilt was never in doubt."

    this is the kind of stupid, uninformed comments in the local press that the accused will use in his appeal to escape the death penalty.

    Good job.