Mental Exam Set This Week For Fort Hood Suspect
FORT WORTH (AP) – The Army psychiatrist charged in last year’s deadly Fort Hood shooting rampage is to have a mental evaluation this week, his attorney said Monday.
Maj. Nidal Hasan will be evaluated in the county jail near the Texas Army post as early as Tuesday by a three-member military mental health panel, said his lead attorney, John Galligan.
The panel will determine whether Hasan is competent to stand trial. The board also will determine whether Hasan had a severe mental illness at the time of the Nov. 5, 2009, shooting, and if so, whether such a condition prevented him from knowing at the time that his alleged actions were wrong.
Galligan said he objects to the evaluation because the panel lacks documents in the case related to his client. He also said Army officials have banned the defense from observing any part of the mental exam, and he does not know how many days it will last.
“The defense continues to proceed in the dark, but the government continues to proceed from the same playbook with the goal of trying Maj. Hasan and getting the death penalty,” Galligan told The Associated Press on Monday from his office near Fort Hood, about 125 miles south of Fort Worth.
Hasan has been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder.
An Army colonel who presided over Hasan’s recent Article 32 hearing has made an initial recommendation that he should be court-martialed and face the death penalty. At the hearing, held to determine if charges move forward in military court, more than two dozen soldiers shot on the day of the rampage were among those who testified.
A brigade commander will make a recommendation after Hasan’s mental exam, but the final decision about a trial rests with a commanding general. Army officials have not said whether they would seek the death penalty if Hasan goes to trial.
Hasan, 40, has been in custody since the shootings, first in a San Antonio military hospital for treatment of gunshot wounds that left him paralyzed from the waist down. Since April he has been in the nearby Bell County Jail, which houses military suspects for Fort Hood. The military justice system does not have bail for defendants.
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