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2013-04-04

Hasan trial to remain at Fort Hood, no guilty plea

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

United States Army Col. Tara Osborn, presiding judge in United States vs. Maj. Nidal Hasan, made several significant rulings during a pretrial hearing on Wednesday, March 20, at Fort Hood.
Army Major Nidal Hasan, 42, has been charged with perpetrating the worst mass shooting in history on a US military installation.
Osborn denied a defense request to move the court martial away from Fort Hood to Fort Meade, Maryland. During a Feb. 28 pretrial hearing, Hasan's lead defense attorney, Lt. Col. Kris Poppe, requested the change of venue, arguing that his client would be unable to receive a fair trial at Fort Hood due to "inherent hostility and prejudice."
The judge also denied Poppe's motion to order a change of potential panel members. Last month, Poppe had also requested that the jury for Hasan's court martial be selected from branches of the military other than the Army because of prejudicial pretrial publicity.
Additionally, Osburn ruled that Article 45(b) of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice prohibits the court from accepting a guilty plea from the defendant. In February, Poppe had indicated that his client was willing to plead guilty to 13 counts of premeditated murder - which remains a capital crime.
Hasan, a former Army psychistrist, is currently charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of premeditated attempted murder. The mayhem occurred during the November 2009 shooting rampage that lasted about 10 minutes. If found guilty, Hasan could face the death penalty or life without parole.
Osborn also heard arguments to determine whether Evan Kohlmann will be allowed to testify as an expert witness in the case. She said she would announce at later date to what extent Kohlmann will be allowed to testify in the Hasan court martial.
An American terrorism consultant, Kohlmann has worked for the FBI and other governmental organizations, frequently serving as an expert witness for the prosecution in terrorism trials. Additionally, Kohlmann serves as an on-air analyst for NBC News on matters involving terrorism.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Tuesday, April 16.