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Judge: Death penalty still on table for Maj. Nidal Hasan

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TWC News: New judge to consider numerous defense motions in Hasan hearing
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The new judge in the trial of accused Fort Hood shooting suspect Maj. Nidal Hasan denied the defense’s request to take the death penalty off the table.

At a pretrial hearing Wednesday morning, Col. Tara Osborn denied several motions from Maj. Hasan’s defense team, siding with decisions made by the judge previously assigned to the case, Col. Gregory Gross.

A military appeals court removed Judge Gross from the case in December, citing concerns about his impartiality.

Judge Osborn also denied the defense’s request for the army to pay for an expert to analyze the impact of the media’s coverage of the massacre and pre-trial proceedings.

Also denied was a request from Maj. Hasan’s team for Defense-Initiated Victim Outreach, which would allow the defense to contact surviving victims for their input on sentencing.

The defense team withdrew their motion which challenged the military code which states the judge cannot accept guilty pleas if the case involves the death penalty.

A contentious issue through the trial has been the beard which Maj. Hasan grew last year in direct violation of military rules. The controversy spurred many delays and pushed the trial back several months.

Pretrial hearings will continue February 27, when the judge will hear arguments about a proposed change of venue.

Maj. Hasan is accused of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder.

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