Judge: Fort Hood shooting suspect can represent himself at trial


BELL COUNTY, TX - APRIL 9: In this photo released by the Bell County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist who is charged with murder in the Fort Hood shootings, is seen in a booking photo after being moved to the Bell County Jail on April 9, 2010 in Belton, Texas.


Bell County Sheriff's Office

The Army psychiatrist accused of going on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Tex., in 2009 will be allowed to represent himself during his court-martial, an Army judge decided Monday.

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan will go on trial next month on 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder after the shooting at Fort Hood in Killeen, Tex. that killed 13 people. 

Military judge Col. Tara Osborn granted Hasan's request to waive his right to counsel after a doctor testified that he is healthy enough to handle the potentially lengthy trial.

Major Hasan, 42, was shot in the chest by police during the encounter and is now paralyzed below his chest.

He uses a wheelchair and his attorneys have said that he can only sit in the courtroom for limited periods of time. 

The Army doctor, Maj. Prasad Lakshminarasimhiah, testified that Hasan is fit enough for the trial and can sit upright for up to 12 hours a day with stretch breaks every four hours.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Col. Osborn spent much of the hearing trying to convince Hasan to keep his legal counsel and not represent himself, which she called "unwise".

"How are you, with no formal legal training or education, going to know what to do when the other side has that level of education?" Osborn asked.

"I’m going to do the best I can do," Hasan replied.

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Army Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey Corn, a professor at South Texas College of Law in Houston told Reuters that Hasan could be asked to step down if he attempts to use his trial as a stage for promoting radical beliefs.

"Does he want to use the opportunity to represent himself as a platform?" Corn asked.

"Or does he just want to play the martyr and just sit there and do nothing? We don't know."