FORT HOOD -– After weeks of delays, a U.S. Army judge scheduled jury selection in Maj. Nidal Hasan’s criminal trial to begin on July 9, and opening statements to start no earlier than August 6.
Earlier Tuesday afternoon, the judge, Col. Tara Osborn, denied Maj. Hasan’s request for a three-month delay.
Last week, she ordered him to develop a new defense strategy, refusing to let Hasan argue that he opened fire on unarmed soldiers in Texas in 2009 to protect Taliban leaders.
Jury selection will take four weeks, the judge said.
Despite the denial, the accused mass murderer suggested he was ready to move forward, though what kind of defense he will present remains uncertain.
“I am prepared to give you some additional time,” Col. Osborn said.
“I will take what the court offers,” Hasan replied. “My whole reasoning was to prepare for the defense of others.”
“Are you asking for a continuance for any amount of time?,” Osborn continued.
“I’m withdrawing my request,” Hasan told her.
Col. Osborn also addressed the growing security measures in place outside the small courthouse on the eastern edge of the Army post.
“I am not aware of any specific threat to any individual,” the judge said, “but this is a capital murder trial. Emotions run high. The location of the courthouse is on the corner of Fort Hood. Common sense would dictate you exercise caution and take security measures.”
She also clarified the role of Hasan’s military-appointed defense team.
Col. Osborn said the three Army attorneys will remain with Hasan at trial because of the complexity of the case and the possibility that the accused no longer wants to represent himself.
Two weeks ago, Lt. Col. Kris Poppe expressed concern about his role and offering Hasan advice for his defense of others, with which he and the other two Army defense attorneys didn't agree.
Col. Osborn Tuesday reiterated that Hasan’s military lawyers will assist him and play an investigative role, help find witnesses, and help the accused maintain courtroom protocol.
“Given the court’s ruling regarding to the defense of others, we have no objection [going forward,]” Poppe said.
Hasan said he wants to remain his own attorney, even though he cannot present the defense of others. The judge told him he will not be able to appeal on grounds that his own defense was ineffective.