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Ft. Hood Update: Lawyers Say Hasan's Seeking Death Sentence

Brigitte Woosley

Update: The trial of Major Nidal Hasan is expected to resume at 9 a.m. after an abrupt recess yesterday. Nidal's council filed a motion to clarify their role in the trial. Listen above to hear what  happened yesterday. 

Update: (12:53 p.m.)  When Maj. Nidal Hasan was wheeled into the courtroom Wednesday morning, the press expected to hear continued testimony in the trial. But it quickly became apparent today would present another twist in an already unprecedented case.

Late Tuesday night, Hasan’s standby council, led by Lt. Col. Kris Poppe, filed a motion to clarify the council’s role in the trial. The council believes Hasan wants the death penalty, and they do not want to provide legal assistance to him if that’s his goal.

They feel it is contrary to their professional requirements.  Either they want off the case or to resume full responsibility to defend Hasan.

Hasan is representing himself. Previously, Judge Col. Tara Osborn had stated the standby council must attend all hearings, assist the accused when required and provide procedural assistant to the accused.

Poppe said the council believes Hasan is trying to seek the death penalty because of his conduct during jury selection and Tuesday’s proceedings.

At first, Col. Osborn questioned if the council was concerned during jury selection in mid-July, why they didn’t say anything at that time. But Poppe said those concerns were cemented during Hasan’s opening statements and cross-examination of witnesses. In his opening statement, Hasan said the evidence will show that he is the shooter.

“The sequence of events became crystallized,” Poppe said, which led to the motion. 

Hasan called the assessment a “twist of the facts.”

“It’s inaccurate and I’d like to clarify that,” he said.

When he asked to verbally voice his issues, the judge told him to put it in writing. He objected, and the trial went into closed session.

Hasan faces the death penalty or life in prison without parole. 

Original Post(11:52 a.m.): Court has recessed until tomorrow morning in the trial of Maj. Nidal Hasan. The accused’s standby counsel asked the court to be removed from the case – insisting that Hasan is purposely trying to get the death penalty.

Hasan, accused of killing 13 people and wounding more than thirty at the Fort Hood army post in November 2009, is representing himself in court. But standby counsel is there to offer legal advice. The standby attorneys think Hasan is trying to remove impediments to receive death penalty – and if that is the case, they don't want to provide legal advice. 

FortHasan called the allegation a twist of facts and objected. The judge then granted a private hearing.

Yesterday, Hasan said “the evidence will clearly show that I am the shooter,” before going on to describe himself as a Mujahideen or holy warrior “trying to establish a perfect religion in the land of supreme God.”

The court now stands recessed to 9 a.m. tomorrow.

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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