FORT HOOD – More than three years after he was accused in a shooting massacre at a Central Texas Army post, Maj. Nidal Hasan is finally preparing to stand trial in a military court and will ask a judge Wednesday morning to represent himself.
If approved, it will be the first time Hasan, 42, has spoken at length other than to give short answers in previous proceedings.
In the pre-trial hearing on Wednesday, Hasan will ask the military judge to allow him to represent himself against 13 charges of premeditated murder and 32 charges of attempted murder in the deadly shooting spree of soldiers on November 5, 2009.
“I sort of see it as an act of defiance against the trial process,” said Ret. Lt. Col. Colby Vokey, a former lead defense attorney in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Since Hasan is eligible for the death penalty, if convicted, it's mandatory that the court enter a plea of not guilty on Hasan’s behalf Wednesday morning.
In addition, the trial judge, Col. Tara Osborn from Fort Bragg, is expected to announce rulings from issues raised at previous hearings, said Christopher Haug, Fort Hood Public Affairs.
If Osborn allows Hasan to represent himself, he will be able to question potential panelists, the military equivalent to a jury.
“That’s going to be unique,” Vokey added. “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that in a military trial.”
Vokey has defended numerous clients, including Omar Khadr, a former Guantanamo detainee who accepted a plea agreement for killing an American soldier.
Jury selection in Hasan’s case begins next Wednesday and his trial is scheduled to start July 1.
Reporter Jason Whitely is among a handful of journalists the U.S. Army selected to be in the courtroom during today’s hearing. Remaining journalists will watch the proceedings on a closed circuit TV feed in an adjacent building.