Published November 27, 2009
The defense attorney for the Army psychiatrist charged with killing 13 people at Fort Hood reportedly has said his client will probably plead not guilty and that an insanity defense is possible.
"I anticipate that the plea will be not guilty," Retired Army Col. John Galligan told ABC News.
Maj. Nidal Hasan will be confined until his military trial, initially staying in a hospital where he is recovering from gunshot wounds, the attorney said. Hasan has no feeling from the chest down and has limited movement in his arms.
When asked if he would enter an insanity plea for Hasan, Galligan said, "I'm fairly confident that that's going to have to at least be examined. And that's problematic. But we haven't reached that stage yet."
During a hearing in Hasan's room in a Texas hospital on Saturday, a magistrate ruled that there was probable cause that Hasan committed the Nov. 5 shooting spree at Fort Hood, said Galligan.
"Based on the evidence thus far, his mental status must be raised," Galligan told The Associated Press by phone from his office near Fort Hood, about 130 miles southwest of Dallas. "Anybody who allegedly engages in conduct that is completely contradictory to his lifestyle and military career — an insanity defense has to be considered."
Hasan has been at Brooke Army Medical Center since the shooting, and his attorney said he has been told he has permanent paralysis.
"In the 36 years I've dealt with military justice cases," Galligan told ABC, "this is the first time I have ever had to go to an ICU to conduct a hearing. We could have conducted this hearing next week. He is paralyzed. He is not going on leave."
Galligan told the AP the judge also ordered Hasan to pretrial confinement, which usually means jail, until his court-martial. The military justice system does not have bail for defendants.
The magistrate ruled that Hasan will initially remain in the hospital, where he is in intensive care, Galligan said.
Saturday's hearing was closed to the media. Officials at Fort Hood declined to comment.
Hasan was shot by civilian members of Fort Hood's police force after the shooting spree in a crowded building where soldiers must go before they are deployed to finalize wills, update vaccinations and get vision and dental screenings.
Hasan has been under guard at the hospital, Galligan said, and military officials have not told him how the pretrial confinement status will change anything.
"I don't know what rights and privileges he had that will now be changed, such as visitors of if they'll open his mail," Galligan said. "There are still many issues that haven't been addressed. I feel like I just wasted a day."
Hasan has been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder. Galligan said military law requires his client to plead not guilty if prosecutors seek the death penalty, but he said that decision has not been made.
Galligan said he is concerned about where Hasan will be moved once he's released from the hospital, but he does not know when that will happen.
He said he is frustrated because prosecutors are taking too long to respond to his questions and requests. He said he has asked why no witnesses were allowed to testify during Saturday's hearing, and why it was closed to the news media. He had planned to question Hasan's commander, who in documents indicated Hasan would be moved to an unspecified hospital but did not say when.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.