FORT HOOD, Texas – The Army psychiatrist charged in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage will represent himself at his upcoming murder trial, meaning he will question the more than two dozen soldiers he's accused of wounding, a military judge ruled Monday.
Maj. Nidal Hasan's attorneys will remain on the case but only if he asks for their help, the judge said. Hasan, 42, faces the death penalty or life in prison without parole if convicted of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder.
After questioning Hasan for about an hour, the judge, Col. Tara Osborn, ruled that Hasan was mentally competent to represent himself and understands "the disadvantage of self-representation." She repeatedly urged him to reconsider his request, noting that the lead prosecutor has more than 20 years of experience and that Hasan will be held to the same standards as all attorneys regarding courtroom rules and military law.
"You've made that quite clear," Hasan said after the judge asked if he understood that representing himself was not "a good idea."
At Osborn's request, a doctor testified Monday about Hasan's physical condition. The doctor said Hasan's paralysis won't have a significant impact during proceedings but that Hasan can only sit for four consecutive hours and has limitations writing. He was paralyzed from the waist down after being shot by police the day of the attack on the Texas Army post.
Hasan asked the judge to kick one of his attorneys off the case completely, but she instead said that two of his lawyers would sit at his defense table while the third sits in the courtroom. All will assist him if he asks.
Jury selection is set to start Wednesday.