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Accused Fort Hood gunman evaluated

Dec. 8, 2010 at 7:32 AM   |   Comments

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FORT HOOD, Texas, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- A three-person panel of mental health professionals is evaluating Maj. Nidal Hasan, accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, last year.

The evaluation of Hasan's mental status, which began Tuesday and is to resume Wednesday, is part of the process to determine whether Hasan will face a court-martial, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

The panel interviewed Hasan, charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder, to evaluate his mental competence, officials said. Fort Hood commanders have said they will use the evaluation in deciding whether to refer Hasan to a court-martial.

An investigating officer overseeing Hasan's Article 32 pretrial hearing recommended Hasan be court-martialed and eligible for the death penalty.

Hasan's civilian attorney, John Galligan, has argued the evaluation be delayed until the defense team gets evidence Gilligan said has been kept secret by the Defense Department and the White House about what was known about Hasan before the Nov. 5, 2009, massacre, CNN reported.

"They should not be conducting this mental evaluation before all the relevant information is available," Galligan said in an interview.

Congressional members also have been seeking more details about what federal intelligence officers knew about Hasan, as well as how he was evaluated and promoted.

Galligan, a former military lawyer and judge, said he hasn't been allowed to be present during the evaluation sessions conducted at a civilian jail near Fort Hood.

"They don't mind examining his mind but they don't want to examine his existing medical problems," said Galligan, who has criticized the care for Hasan, who was shot and paralyzed from the chest down by police responding to the mass shooting.

© 2010 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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