This 2003 picture provided by the Uniformed Services University of the… (Associated Press )
EL PASO — A military hearing leading up to the murder trial of Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist charged in the Fort Hood shooting rampage, was delayed Friday after Hasan showed up in court with a beard.
Col. Gregory Gross, the trial judge, said Hasan's facial hair — captured by a sketch artist during his appearance Friday at the Texas base’s Lawrence J. Williams Judicial Center — violated Army regulations and “was a disruption to the court proceedings,” according to a statement released Friday by Fort Hood public affairs.
Gross delayed the hearing until Hasan either complies with “proper military grooming standards” or a closed circuit video system is set up for him to appear remotely.
Hasan's lawyers said they plan to seek an exception to the grooming rule on religious grounds, according to the statement.
Hasan appeared with a mustache in a yearbook photo at Wakefield High School in his native Arlington, Va., but at the time of the shooting appeared clean-shaven in accordance with Army regulations, although he was reportedly exchanging emails with Muslim extremists including Yemeni radical Anwar Awlaki, who sported a long beard.
Hasan faces the death penalty if convicted of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the November 2009 attack at the U.S. Army base about 80 miles northwest of Austin.
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