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Judge denies motion to delay, Hasan trial set for August

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TWC News: Judge denies motion to delay, Hasan trial set for August
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Update -- Accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan was not in the courtroom Friday, as military judge Col. Gregory Gross ruled on several defense motions filed during a hearing last week.

Gross denied the defense's motion for a continuance, which would have pushed back the trial until December.

Last week, the defense argued they needed more time to go through the hundreds of thousands of pages worth of discovery evidence. In addition, the defense said they needed more time to find their own expert to counter a prosecution expert who is expected to take the stand and testify Hasan is a 'contemporary violent extremist' or 'homegrown terrorist'.

The prosecution argued the defense had used the issue about the abundance of evidence in previous successful requests to delay the trial, which was originally scheduled to begin in March. Prosecutors also said that the defense should not have been surprised by the fact that the issue of 'homegrown terrorism' was going to be brought up during the trial due to the nature of the case.

Hasan is accused of going on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood on Nov. 5, 2009 inside the Soldier Readiness Processing Center. Twelve soldiers and one civilian were killed in the shooting while dozens were wounded.

During the Article 32 hearing, which is similar to the civilian court equivalent of a grand jury, several witnesses who were inside the Soldier Readiness Processing Center testified Hasan yelled 'Allah Akbar' or 'God is great' at the time of the shooting.

Hasan was missing from the courtroom for the entire hearing Friday, instead he watched the proceedings through a closed circuit television from a trailer located just outside the courthouse. During a hearing June 19, the judge ordered him to be removed from the courtroom because Hasan refused to shave his beard.

Since Hasan is an Army officer, growing a beard is against military grooming standards. The defense has argued that Hasan has a beard because of his Islamic faith and because he had a premonition of an early death.

After last week's hearing, the defense filed a writ to the Army Court of Criminal Appeals to get Judge Gross' decision to remove Hasan from the courtroom reversed. However that appeal was denied. The defense also filed a 'religious exemption' with the Army G1, which handles personnel issues. That request was also denied.

Much of the hearing Friday was dedicated to another defense request for the judge to recuse himself or step down from the case, for what the defense said was the judge's bias against Hasan.

The defense brought up several examples, including an incident that happened after the June 8 hearing. During questioning by lead defense attorney Lt. Col. Kris Poppe, the judge recounted the condition of a restroom used by Hasan.

Hasan, who is paralyzed from the chest down after being shot by military police on the day of the shooting, has to wear adult diapers because he is unable to control his bowel movements.

Judge Gross said after past hearings, he has had not problems personally disposing of a biohazard bag which contain Hasan's soiled diapers.

But on June 8, Judge Gross said he observed what appeared to be feces smeared on the floor under the biohazard bag. That is when Gross sent an email ordering someone from the defense team to come and clean the mess up.

The defense argued that the judge immediately arrived at the worst conclusion without the proper investigation, assuming that Hasan created the mess and that substance on the floor was feces.

"I don't know how much investigation was needed," Judge Gross said.

Gross went on to say that it was clear to him that Hasan was at least partially responsible for the mess made.

Poppe argued that the mess was in fact made by a DES guard, and the substance on the floor was actually mud.

"I think you're wasting my time by bringing up the mess made in the latrine," Gross said.

Poppe said he believed the bathroom incident played a factor in the judge's decision to remove Hasan from the courtroom and into the trailer.

Judge Gross argued the trailer is not just 'some shed', in fact the government pays $8,000 a month for the trailer which Gross believes is nicer than the deliberation room inside the courthouse.

Another issue Poppe said indicated the judge's bias involves the judge's order for Hasan to remove his beanie while in the courtroom.

Since the first hearing, Hasan had been allowed to keep his hat on while inside. The judge had made an exception since beginning when the defense argued that Hasan's paralysis makes it difficult to regulate his body temperature, and made him prone to chills.

However Poppe said on June 8, after Hasan showed up to court with a beard the judge ordered Hasan to remove his hat.

The judge said he made the decision after determining that the defense did not have a medical note or profile which stated Hasan had a medical need to wear the hat inside.

The prosecution argued that the judge has bent over backwards to give the accused the benefit of the doubt, and the defense was just unhappy when the judge ruled against them.

"I am clearly not biased in this case," Gross said, before he denied the defense's motion for him to recuse himself.

The defense stated that they intended to file a writ to appeal to the Army Court of Criminal Appeals.

The judge did partially grant the defense's request to question the Staff Judge Advocate and the convening authority, which is Fort Hood Commander Lt. Gen. Donald Campbell.

However the judge decided that the two could choose to be interviewed together, which the defense opposed.

Another hearing is set for next Friday.

TWC News: Judge denies motion to delay, Hasan trial set for August
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Earlier -- A hearing is set Friday morning for accused Fort Hood shooter, Maj. Nidal Hasan. in the case. The judge is expected to rule on several motions brought up during his hearing last week.

Hasan is charged with killing 13 people and wounding 32 others in a mass shooting on post in November 2009.

One of the major issues is the defense’s request to delay the trial from August until December. During a hearing last week, the defense argued they needed more time to go over the hundreds of thousands of pages of evidence involved in the case.

The prosecution argued the defense has used the reasoning about the abundance of evidence in past successful requests to delay the trial, which was originally scheduled to begin in March.

The defense also told the judge they needed more time to counter a prosecution witness who is expected to take the stand to testify that Hasan is a “contemporary violent extremist” or a “homegrown terrorist.” The prosecution says the defense should not have been surprised the issue of homegrown terrorism would be raised.

The judge will also consider other requests Friday, including one from the defense that the judge removes himself from the trial for what they claim is “actual bias” against their client.

Another big question is whether or not Hasan will be in the court room. During last two hearings, his beard has become a major point of contention. Since Hasan is an army officer, he is not allowed to have a beard, according to military grooming standards.

Last week, Hasan was removed from the hearing and forced to watch the rest of the proceedings from a trailer for having a beard.

The defense argues Hasan has a beard for his Islamic faith and because he has a “premonition of his early death.”

The prosecution says the beard is “simply distraction.”

Hasan, who is paralyzed from the shooting, faces the death penalty if convicted.

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