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Ft. Hood shooting suspect Nidal Hasan is barred from courtroom

June 19, 2012|By Molly Hennessy-Fiske
  • Soldiers as they walk past the III Corps building headquarters at Ft. Hood.
Soldiers as they walk past the III Corps building headquarters at Ft. Hood. (Larry W. Smith / EPA )

HOUSTON -- On Tuesday, a Texas military judge barred former Ft. Hood Army psychiatrist -- and alleged shooter -- Maj. Nidal Hasan from court because he appeared with a beard.

Hasan is preparing to stand trial in connection with the deadly 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, about 70 miles northwest of Austin.

Judge Gregory Gross told Hasan on Tuesday that he will have to attend hearings via closed-circuit video until he shaves. Earlier this month, Gross had warned Hasan that his beard violated Army policy.

Hasan was removed from court Tuesday and had to watch the proceedings on closed-circuit television from a nearby room.

Hasan’s lead defense attorney, Lt. Col. Kris Poppe, told the Associated Press that Hasan grew his beard as a "deeply sincere" expression of his Islamic faith and because he had a premonition that he would soon die.

Poppe also released a statement on Hasan's behalf stressing that he is no longer represented by former attorney John Galligan and that "any comments made by Galligan about this case are for his own purposes and not on behalf of Hasan."

Defense attorneys indicated Tuesday that they plan to seek a writ of prohibition and a stay of the proceedings from the Army Court of Criminal Appeals based on the judge's ruling that excludes Hasan from the courtroom.

Other motions argued and considered by the judge include: a request for a further continuance; resolution of discovery issues; whether the government should pay for Hasan to be evaluated by a neurological expert; a request to compel production of documents used in selecting the jury; and a request to allow the defense to interview a commanding general and his military attorney.

The judge granted the defense request for an expert neurologist, and is expected to rule on other motions at the next hearing, scheduled for 10 a.m. on June 29.

Hasan faces the death penalty in connection with the shooting that killed 13 people at the Army base. His trial is scheduled to start Aug. 20.

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Join Molly on Google+ and Twitter @mollyhf. Email: molly.hennessy-fiske@latimes.com

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