This undated file photo provided by the Bell County Sheriff's Department… ( Associated Press )
A military judge entered a not-guilty plea Tuesday for Ft. Hood massacre suspect Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who is accused of the worst mass shooting ever at a U.S. military base.
The Army psychiatrist, who is acting as his own attorney, had refused to enter a plea after the judge rejected his earlier attempts to plead guilty. Military law does not allow a guilty plea in a death penalty case.
In a pretrial hearing, the judge, Col. Tara Osborn, also denied Hasan's request for more time to decide whether to hire a new attorney. Hasan, 42, had asked for three more days to talk to Ramsey Clark, who served as U.S. attorney general under President Johnson, about an offer to serve as his defense lawyer, the Associated Press reported.
Osborn told Hasan he could hire a new lawyer only if he or she was ready for trial by July 9, when jury selection begins. She has also told Hasan’s former attorneys to stand by to help him if he asks for it.
Hasan, an American-born Muslim, contends he acted to defend the Taliban. He is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the Nov. 5, 2009, shootings at the Texas Army post.
If convicted, he faces the death penalty or life without parole.
The trial is scheduled to start in August.
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