FORT HOOD (CBSDFW.COM) – The Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 and wounding 32 during the deadliest shooting on an American military post will stand trial on March 5, 2012 without his lead attorney.
Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, 40, was arraigned Wednesday at the Lawrence J. Willias Judicial Center at Fort Hood. He is accused of opening fire at the Fort Hood Soldier Readiness Processing Center on Nov. 5, 2009, killing 13 and wounding more than 30.
During the arraignment, Hasan confirmed he released his civilian defense attorney, retired Col. John Galligan. No reason was given. Two Army lawyers assigned to the defense counsel will take over Hasan’s case, in addition to another who appeared in court Wednesday.
In a statement, Galligan referred to the dismissal as a “leave of absence,” and said he would follow the case as it develops.
The former colonel has continually said he feels Hasan “has not been treated fairly” since the shooting. He has lead a defense that’s badgered prosecutors for classified documents related to the shooting and served as its outspoken voice.
In the statement, he compared himself to historic President John Adams, who represented British soldiers during the Boston Massacre.
“I deeply regret that my presence on the Defense Team has been interrupted,” he said in the statement. “However, Major Hasan fully understands that I stand ready and anxious to resume an active role.”
In October during an Article 32 hearing – the military’s version of a civilian grand jury trial – witnesses to the shooting provided a grueling retelling of Hasan allegedly yelling “Allahu akbar!” – ‘God is great’ in Arabic – and unloading a semi-automatic weapon upon a crowded room of soldiers and personnel in a medical processing building.
The vivid descriptions accused Hasan of only stopping to reload, sometimes targeting defenseless individuals trying to flee or those hiding under tables.
Hasan showed no emotion during the two week hearing, which presented evidence to post officials who then decided he would face a court-martial and a possible death sentence. Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder. He faces the death penalty.
Because of the possible punishment, military law prevents the accused from pleading ‘guilty.’ Hasan waived reading of the charges he faces through his counsel and deferred entering a plea.
At least 12 officers at Hasan’s Army rank or higher will preside as the military jury during the March 5, 2012 court-martial.
Army lawyers Lt. Col. Kris R. Poppe and Maj. Christopher E. Martin will stay on Hasan’s defense team.
Poppe comes from the office of the U.S. Army Trial Defense Service while Martin is the senior defense counsel at the Fort Hood office of the U.S. Army Trial Defense Service.
The arraignment lasted just 20 minutes. For Hasan to receive the death penalty, the prosecution must prove he deliberately planned the attacks beforehand.
Hasan was shot by authorities during the attack and is paralyzed from the waist down.