Maj. Nidal Hasan, 39, of Virginia, charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice with murdering 13 people and wounding more than 30 others, appeared in court Tuesday for the first time since the Nov. 5 massacre at the Soldier Readiness Center at Fort Hood in Texas. Hasan, who is paralyzed from the chest down after being shot by police at the scene of the shooting spree, sat in a wheelchair.
Hasan’s attorney, John Galligan, asked for a delay in the proceedings so he would have more time to assemble a defense team, review thousands of documents and obtain classified evidence collected by military investigators.
Prosecutors on May 26 delivered “several thousand pages” of documents, Galligan said in an interview.
“There’s a lot of new evidence we need to digest,” he said.
Galligan said he also told the court he is concerned that Hasan’s health has declined in jail. Hasan has been held at the Bell County Jail since being released from the hospital April 9.
Col. James Pohl, an investigative officer who sits as a judge in the case, will hear witness testimony Oct. 4 in a proceeding called an Article 32 hearing, which is similar to a grand jury. Pohl will determine whether there is enough evidence to bring Hasan’s case to trial and make a recommendation to Col. Morgan Lamb, the 21st Cavalry Brigade commander, who can elevate the case from a special court-martial to the highest court, a general court-martial, said Chris Haug, chief of media relations at Fort Hood.
Pohl scheduled a procedural hearing for July 19.
Prosecutors may seek the death penalty. Last month, at Pohl’s request, they sent a letter to Hasan’s attorney noting that the incident involved multiple deaths, an aggravating factor that makes the alleged shooter eligible for the death penalty under the military code.
Source: Donna Leinwand for USA Today.