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Judge: Accused Fort Hood Gunman Cannot Plead Guilty

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Maj. Nidal Hasan (Jail photo)

Maj. Nidal Hasan (Jail photo)

FORT HOOD (March 20, 2013)-- Military judge Col. Tara Osborn ruled Wednesday evening that accused Fort Hood gunman Maj. Nidal Hasan will not be allowed to plead guilty to any charges in the November 2009 shooting rampage on post that left 13 people dead and 32 others wounded.

Hasan wanted to plead guilty to 13 counts of premeditated murder, but Army rules prohibit a guilty plea to charges that carry a possible death penalty and Osborn said Wednesday Hasan won’t be allowed to plead guilty even to lesser charges.

The ruling means the court-martial of the Army psychiatrist will proceed and that if he’s convicted he could be sentenced to death.

Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the Nov. 5, 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood’s Soldier Readiness Center.

Earlier Osborn rejected a defense motion to move the court-martial out of Central Texas, ruling that the defense failed to prove that pretrial publicity would prevent Hasan from receiving a fair trial here.

Osborn Wednesday also heard arguments on a defense request to reconsider the admissibility of the testimony of terrorism expert Evan Kohlmann, which the defense wants to limit.

Osborn is now considering whether to allow Kohlmann to appear as an expert witness for the prosecution.

Kohlmann says Hasan meets six factors that indicate someone is a homegrown terrorist, but the defense argues that prosecutors don't need Kohlmann's testimony or 50-page report on Hasan's case to show a motive or premeditation.

Kohlmann testified Wednesday that Hasan visited the websites of terrorist groups before the 2009 shooting rampage, but acknowledged he couldn't prove Hasan listened to terrorist leaders' sermons that were downloaded onto his laptop computer.

Jury selection for Hasan’s court-martial is scheduled to begin on May 29 and testimony is scheduled to start on July 1.

Another pretrial hearing is scheduled for April 16.


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