Ft. Hood Suspect Requests Trial Delay as he Decides to Defend Himself

Mike O'Brien

A judge will today (Tuesday) decide whether to grant Fort Hood murder suspect Maj. Nidal Hasan’s request for another three-month delay in the start of his trial.

Hasan asked for the extra time to prepare his case yesterday when he announced that he’ll use a "defense of others" argument as he represents himself at his upcoming trial.

The Army psychiatrist is accused of killing 13 people and wounding more than two dozen others in 2009 at the Texas Army post.

He did not elaborate when announcing his strategy on Monday, shortly after a military judge agreed to allow him to represent himself.

Typically, to prove to a "defense of others" argument, a defendant must show a threat was imminent.

Hasan, 42, faces the death penalty or life without parole if convicted. July selection was scheduled to begin on Wednesday.

In defending himself, it means Hasan will question the more than two dozen soldiers he's accused of wounding.

His attorneys will remain on the case but only if he asks for their help, the judge said.

After questioning Hasan for about an hour, the judge, Col. Tara Osborn, ruled that he was mentally competent to represent himself and understands "the disadvantage of self-representation," the Associated Press reports.

She repeatedly asked him to reconsider his request, saying 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 Ms. Osborn's request, a doctor testified on Monday about Hasan's physical condition. He was paralyzed from the waist down after being shot by police the day of the attack on the Texas Army post.

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.