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Fort Hood Massacre Trial Update: Dec 18 New Judge Allows Hasan to Keep Beard
Dec 18: Maj. Nidal Hasan will apparently will be allowed to keep his beard during his trial after a new judge indicated Tuesday that she won’t force him to shave. The judge, Col. Tara Osborn, said she won’t hold it against him but that military jurors might.
Hasan replied “yes ma’am” when the judge asked if he grew the beard voluntarily.
The case still has not been afforded a set court date. The judge has pending motions to rule on and the defense has a litany of requests which the judge is sure to address prior to the trial. Hasan’s team requested of the prior judge to allow their client to plead guilty which is not allowed by military standards in a death penalty military case.
The prior judge, Col. Gregory Gross, was removed from the case because of impartiality and his insistence that Hasan be forcibly shaved, a military requirement that many agreed with. The back and forth between Gross and Hasan’s defense team delayed the case for months.
Hasan also is charged with 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder.
Dec. 4: Col. Gregory Gross has been removed from the long delayed Fort Hood massacre trial by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist charged with 13 counts of murder in the 2009 shooting rampage at the Texas military base, appears to have won the standoff with the judge over whether the suspects beard should be allowed in military court or forcibly removed.
Hasan, charged with 13 counts of murder in the 2009 rampage, has argued that his beard is a requirement of his Muslim faith but the facial hair is in direct violation of Army regulations. Many who oppose the whiskers being allowed also cite the fact that Hasan was clean shaven at the time of the shooting which leads many to believe he is attempting to disguise his appearance from his accusers, making it harder for witnesses involved in the trial to visibly ID Hasan as the shooter. The appeals court said the command, not the judge, is responsible for enforcing grooming standards.
Gross found Hasan in contempt of court at 6 pretrial hearings because of his beard and sent him to another building to watch the proceedings on closed-circuit television. The appeals court’s ruling also vacated all 6 of those contempt of court convictions. The courts decision stated that it was not ruling on whether the judge’s order violated Hasan’s religious rights.
Most lawyers agree that delays always benefit the defense, and this case is no different. During the interim of waiting witnesses can pass away, evidence can be lost, and memories can become less clear.
Fort Hood officials said that proceedings in the case will resume after a new judge is appointed. This indicates Army prosecutors will not appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Hasan faces the death penalty if convicted in the shootings on the Texas Army post that killed 13 people and wounded more than two dozen others.