FORT HOOD, Texas – A military judge on Thursday delayed until June the trial for the Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 in a 2009 shooting spree at Fort Hood.
Maj. Nidal Hasan’s trial was scheduled to begin in March, but defense attorneys asked military judge Col. Gregory Gross to delay the start date until July to allow more time to comb through 60,000 pages of documents related to the case. They also said they needed extra time to allow an expert to examine their client’s background.
Hasan, 41, is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder and could face the death penalty if convicted.
The Army major is accused of killing 13 people and wounding 32 after opening fire on soldiers — many of whom were preparing for deployment to Afghanistan and Iraq — at Fort Hood on Nov. 5, 2009.
An investigation revealed that Hasan exchanged e-mails with now deceased al Qaeda leader Anwar al Awlaki before the shootings.
Al Awlaki, a US citizen, was killed in a US drone strike on Sept. 30 last year in Yemen.
Investigators, however, have concluded that Hasan acted alone in the shooting and was not operating under the direction of a terrorist group.
Hasan was paralyzed from the waist down after being shot by a police officer during the shooting. He remains in jail.
Defense attorneys on Thursday filed a motion to force prosecutors to provide them with notes from meetings with President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and other high-ranking officials discussing the Nov. 5, 2009, shooting.
Hasan’s lawyers want access to the documents to determine if these conversations unlawfully influenced the decision to prosecute Hasan.
Prosecutors opposed the motion, and Gross said he would make a ruling on the issue at a later date.