FORT WORTH, Texas – The Army psychiatrist accused in last year's shooting rampage at Fort Hood is to have a mental evaluation before a key hearing to determine whether he will stand trial, a military commander ordered Monday.
Earlier this year Army officials appointed a three-member board of military mental health professionals to determine whether Maj. Nidal Hasan is competent to stand trial. At issue is his mental status during the Nov. 5 shootings, which left 13 dead and dozens wounded on the Texas Army post.
Col. Morgan Lamb, a Fort Hood brigade commander appointed to oversee judicial matters in Hasan's case, on Monday ordered the evaluation before next week's Article 32 hearing, which will be held to determine whether Hasan will stand trial on 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder. Lamb had previously granted a defense team request to delay the exam for Hasan until after the hearing.
Tyler Broadway, a spokesman for the Army post, said he had no details about Lamb's decision Monday.
It's unclear if any findings from the mental exam would be presented at the Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent to grand jury proceedings. A military officer will hear evidence, including testimony from the nearly three dozen people who were wounded that day, and later determine if Hasan will be court-martialed.
John Galligan, Hasan's lead defense attorney, said he has told Hasan not to cooperate with anyone who tries to evaluate him until the defense team can address "important issues dealing with timing and the composition of the (mental evaluation) board."
"Why at the 11th hour would someone want to rush this through?" Galligan said Monday from his office near Fort Hood, about 120 miles south of Fort Worth.
The panel's job is to determine whether Hasan had a severe mental illness at the time of the shooting, and if so, his clinical psychological diagnosis, whether that prevented him from knowing at the time that his alleged actions were wrong, and if he is competent to stand trial based on military law.
In January when Galligan requested the delay of the evaluation, he cited his lack of military files related to Hasan's mental status and a potential conflict of interest with the panel. Galligan said one member taught at the medical school when Hasan was a student.