Judge rules Fort Hood mass shooter may continue to represent himself

Katie McHugh Associate Editor
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Fort Hood mass shooter Nidal Hasan’s trial came to a halt Thursday after Judge Col. Tara Osborn ruled that Hasan may continue to represent himself despite his attempts to earn himself the death penalty, and Hasan’s “standby attorneys” requested to withdrawal from active participation in the case, Fox News reports.

Lt. Col. Kris Poppe, head of Hasan’s legal team, said that Hasan was “working in concert with the prosecution to achieve a death sentence,” according to CNN.

“It becomes clear that his goal is to remove impediments and obstacles and is working towards a death penalty,” Poppe added.

A former prosecutor familiar with the case told Fox News that Hasan’s legal team didn’t want to be accessories to Hasan’s attempt at martyrdom.

Hasan flatly stated he was the shooter during his opening statement on Tuesday.

“The evidence will clearly show that I am the shooter,” Hasan told a panel  comprised of 13 senior officers. “The evidence presented with this trial will show one side. The evidence will also show that I was on the wrong side. I then switched sides.”

Deeply concerned about diversity and public image, The Army — which hadn’t had a Muslim psychiatrist on staff since 2001 — hired Hasan as a medical corps officer at the Walter Reed Medical Center. When reviewing Pentagon reports, The Boston Globe found that “it is possible some [officers] were afraid’’ of slipping diversity standards “and thus were willing to overlook Hasan’s deficiencies as an officer.”

Officers lavishly praised Hasan on his permanent record with “Best Qualified” and “Outstanding Performance, Must Promote” recommendations. But confidential records reviewed by the Associated Press revealed that in private communications, officers savaged him, declaring he had “poor self-monitoring, judgment and cognitive abilities.” One instructor feared he could develop psychosis.

Despite skipping exams and a psychical fitness test, Hasan was promoted to major in May 2009. His fellow students expressed concerns after Hasan declared Islamic law higher than the Constitution. He was reportedly anxious about being deployed to Afghanistan, where he believed he would be forced to enter into combat against fellow Muslims.

Hasan opened fire at Fort Hood on November 5, 2009 after shouting “Allahu Akbar” in a massacre that left over a dozen dead and dozens more wounded.

General George Casey feared that Hasan’s murderous rampage would cast doubts on the belief that diversity strengthened the Army, brushing aside concerns that Muslim soldiers would feel conflicted about fighting other Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Our diversity, not only in our Army, but in our country, is a strength. And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse,” Casey said on NBC’s Meet The Press three days after the shooting.

The court resumed session on Thursday. Hasan faces 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of premeditated attempted murder. Should he receive the death penalty, he will be the first soldier executed since 1961.

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