Ft. Hood shooting defendant questions potential jurors about Islam
By Matt Pearce
7:43 PM PDT, July 10, 2013An Army psychiatrist charged with the 2009 shooting rampage at Ft. Hood, Texas, that left 13 dead and 32 injured questioned potential jurors about Islam on Wednesday.
Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, 42, an American-born Muslim, is acting as his own attorney, with his former attorneys standing by to help if asked. Hasan was wounded and partially paralyzed; he uses a wheelchair.
Last month, after he won the right to defend himself, Hasan asked the military judge to allow him to argue that he was defending Taliban leaders in Afghanistan by attacking U.S. soldiers in Texas. Col. Tara Osborn refused.
Hasan asked no questions of potential jurors on Tuesday, but spent part of Wednesday querying them about their views on Islam.
At one point, Hasan asked a colonel why he had a "somewhat" unfavorable view of Muslims, according to the Austin American-Statesman. The colonel replied that he objected to the excesses of the Saudi Arabian royal family.
“You basically called the Saudis on their hypocrisy,” Hasan told the colonel, according to the American-Statesman. “Thank you for that on behalf of all Muslims.”
Osborn twice cautioned Hasan for appearing to testify rather than ask questions.
The American-Statesman also reported that Hasan expressed frustration at not being able to tell potential jurors that he was the shooter.
Ten jurors have been tentatively selected so far. At least 13 are required for the court-martial, which is set to begin Aug. 6. Hasan faces 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder.
He has tried to plead guilty, but military law does not allow a guilty plea in a death-penalty case.