The newly-appointed military judge in the court-martial of accused Fort Hood mass shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan ruled Wednesday that questions over Hasan’s beard, which have delayed his trial for more than half a year, are a matter for his chain of command and not a legal issue, a move that might prevent future delays.I think they should, if the queries of clear identification for witnesses come up.
Col. Tara Osborn, who also Wednesday rejected a defense motion to throw out the death penalty as a potential punishment, said that she will likely set a new trial date at Hasan’s next hearing at the end of February. [...]
Hasan was supposed to go to trial in August, but a military appeals court halted the case because of arguments over his beard, which violates Army grooming standards.
Osborn might have removed a major reason for delay when she rejected a defense motion to allow Hasan to keep his beard for religious reasons. She said that is a decision for Hasan’s commanders, taking a different approach than her predecessor, Col. Gregory Gross, who clashed with Hasan continuously over his beard and was ultimately removed from the case late last year by a military appeals court over the issue.
It was unclear Wednesday whether Hasan’s commanders would seek to have him forcibly shaved.
Also, as noted above, the death penalty is being kept in place:
HOUSTON — A military judge Wednesday ruled that an Army psychiatrist charged in the deadly 2009 shooting at Ft. Hood in Texas would still face a possible death sentence at court-martial, potentially barring a guilty plea.I don't think he's ever bound to show genuine remorse. How do we know he's not doing this as a way to avoid something he really does deserve? If he really recognizes that adhering to the Religion of Rape was wrong, he'd agree that he does deserve to die for murdering 13 innocents, including a pregnant woman. No matter what that monster says, he should get a one way ticket to hell for what he did, and we must hope that it will happen.
Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, 42, is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder in connection with the rampage at the Army base, the worst mass shooting on a U.S. military installation.
His lawyers had asked the judge, Col. Tara Osborn, to remove the death penalty in the case, setting the stage for a possible guilty plea. A guilty plea, however, is not allowed in military court if the defendant faces a possible death sentence.
Hasan's lawyers probably requested the removal of the death penalty to create a record that could be used on appeal to reverse a conviction or reduce a death sentence to life in prison, said Geoffrey Corn, a retired lieutenant colonel and law professor at South Texas College of Law in Houston.
Corn said Hasan could still enter a partial plea, pleading guilty to the lesser offense of unpremeditated murder.
"If he does that, the trial changes radically," Corn said, creating a challenge for military prosecutors and uncertainty for jurors, especially if Hasan takes the stand, expresses remorse and characterizes his guilty plea as a way of taking responsibility.