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Ft. Hood trial: Terrorism expert's testimony to be constrained

April 16, 2013|By Laura J. Nelson
  • This undated file photo provided by the Bell County Sheriff's Department shows Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist charged in the deadly 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage.
This undated file photo provided by the Bell County Sheriff's Department… (Bell County Sheriff's Department…)

A terrorism consultant will be allowed to testify only on certain topics during the murder trial of the Army doctor charged in the deadly 2009 shooting at Ft. Hood in Texas, a military judge ruled Tuesday.

In the trial of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, government prosecutors will be allowed to refer to expert Evan Kohlmann for "testimony regarding contextual analysis and definitions, but not for 'profile' testimony," the Army said in a statement.

Prosecutors had said Kohlmann's testimony would be helpful in showing motive for the attack at the central Texas Army base. Defense attorneys objected because Hasan is not charged with terrorism.

Hasan, 42, faces 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder in connection with the worst mass shooting at a U.S. military installation. The ruling by the military judge, Col. Tara Osborn, is one of a series of procedural motions in the lead-up to the trial, which is set to begin July 1.

The trial was originally scheduled to start last summer but was delayed when Hasan, a Muslim, grew a beard and refused to shave it for religious reasons, despite orders and fines imposed by the judge who was then handling the case, Col. Gregory Gross.

Hasan appealed and Gross was removed from the case. Osborn, who took over from Gross, has yet to rule on the beard, which violates military regulations.  

Hasan's next court appearance, a pretrial hearing, is scheduled for May 9. Selection of a panel, the military court's version of a jury, is slated to begin May 29.

The government has nearly 300 witnesses, and testimony is expected to take months.

If convicted, Hasan faces the death penalty or life without parole.

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