Maj. Nidal Hasan (Jail photo)
FORT HOOD (August 30, 2012)—Accused Fort Hood shooter Army Maj. Nidal Hasan spoke Thursday in a court martial pre-trial and defended his refusal to shave, saying God would judge him.
Military Judge Col. Gregory Gross asked Hasan if he had any comment about his refusal to shave his beard right after Gross held Hasan in contempt for appearing in court unshaven and Hasan responded that because of almighty Allah and because of his Muslim religion he is wearing the beard.
Hasan said wearing the beard is not intended to be a sign of disrespect to the military court or to the judge.
“"When I stand before god I am individually responsible for my actions,” Hasan said.
Gross has threatened to have Hasan forcibly shaved before his trial begins and on Monday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces said the court-martial of Hasan can go forward.
An appeal asked the appeals court for a ruling on the beard issue but the court refused.
The court said Hasan's appeal was premature because the trial judge hasn't issued a definitive, written order for the forced shaving.
Hasan recently grew a beard, which violates Army regulations and his attorneys say he won't shave it off because he's expressing his Muslim faith, but military judge Col. Gregory Gross, said he would order the forcible shaving before the court-martial if Hasan didn't shave himself.
Gross deferred ruling on a defense motion to limit victim impact and other types of sentencing evidence in the case and to change the rules over how the court-martial will consider such evidence.
Defense lawyers also argued to Gross that it was premature for him to decide what exhibits the government could use in its opening statement and what evidence the government could use to prove premeditation.
Gross agreed, and put the matters on hold until further notice.
Gross also set another Article 39a hearing 10 a.m. Sept. 6 for the parties to present evidence and argument concerning Hasan's claim that he should be allowed, as a matter of religious freedom, to wear a beard while in uniform at his court-martial.
Selection of a jury panel for Hasan's court-martial was to have started a week ago, but the trial was put on hold while the appeals court considered Hasan's objections to being forcibly shaved.
Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the shooting.
If convicted, he could be sentenced to death.