Judge orders physical for Fort Hood massacre defendant

May 29, 2013 at 2:34 PM
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FORT HOOD, Texas, May 29 (UPI) -- A military judge in Texas has ordered a physical for the suspect in the Fort Hood massacre, saying she wants to be sure he is fit enough to represent himself.

Col. Tara Osborn delayed a decision on whether Maj. Nidal Hasan can act as his own lawyer, scheduling another hearing Monday, the Austin American-Statesman reported Wednesday. She said Hasan's mental competence is adequate but he might not be physically able to withstand the rigors of acting as both lawyer and defendant in a long trial.

Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, allegedly killed 13 people and wounded many more at Fort Hood on Nov. 5, 2009. He faces either a death sentence or life with no parole if he is convicted of premeditated murder.

Jury selection is expected to begin next week.

Hasan is the son of Palestinian Muslim immigrants and enlisted in the Army after he graduated from high school, getting his medical training in the service. Relatives say he gradually became more religious, especially after his parents died.

Jolene Cahill, whose husband was killed at Fort Hood, told the newspaper she believes Hasan wants to use the trial to make political or religious points.

"He has grown a beard and kept it, and so he has a statement to make. He wants people to know who he is -- this is my opinion -- and if he represents himself, then he can be in more control in the courtroom," she said.

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