FORT HOOD, Texas - A defense motion for a closed courtroom at the upcoming Article 32 hearing against Maj. Nidal Hasan was denied Sept. 16 during a status conference hearing.

Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, has been charged with 13 specifications of premeditated murder and 32 specifications of attempted premeditated murder in the Nov. 5, 2009, shooting incident at Fort Hood. Hasan is considered innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.

The status conference hearing was held to address additional preliminary matters for the pre-trial investigation or Article 32 hearing, Fort Hood Director of Public Affairs Tom Rheinlander said.

During the hearing, three motions made by the defense were addressed: a motion to exclude autopsy evidence, a motion to close the hearing to the media and the public, and a motion to delay the hearing so mitigating evidence could be developed.

Investigating Officer Col. James Pohl denied the motions to exclude the autopsy evidence and the motion to close the hearing proceedings. Pohl postponed a decision on the motion for delay.

The investigating officer did approve a partial delay should the hearing continue beyond the anniversary of the shooting. No hearing proceedings will be held Nov. 3-7 because of the anniversary.

Civilian defense attorney John Galligan said he intends to appeal the denied motions.

Galligan maintained that pre-trial publicity will adversely affect his client's ability to receive a fair trial and further coverage would only make it worse. Already, Galligan said, computer Google searches for Hasan's name total more than 4 million. Hasan wants the Article 32 hearing closed to media and the public to cut down on the publicity.

Lead government prosecutor Col. Mike Mulligan said the publicity is in large part Galligan's doing and that Galligan "created a pool he now finds himself awash in."

Pohl, citing lack of specificity in what testimony or parts of the hearing the defense wanted closed, denied the motion in the interest of transparency in military justice.

Galligan said he plans to appeal the decision with Col. Morgan Lamb, convening authority for the proceedings.

The defense also wanted autopsy reports from the 13 victims ruled inadmissible for the Article 32.

Defense attorneys requested and were denied funding to hire a forensics expert to review the reports and identify any issues. Without that expert, military defense attorney Lt. Col. Kris Poppe said the defense would not have the full opportunity to defend their client and rebut information in the autopsy reports.

Government prosecutor Lt. Col. Steve Henricks said the government planned to use the autopsy reports to establish that 13 people died, how they died (gunshot wounds), and that the bullets were extracted and tested.

Pohl agreed to ignore any information presented from the autopsy reports that did not deal with the government's expressed purpose or accept redacted reports only containing information required for the government's stated intended use.

The defense also asked for a partial delay without specifying the dates in order for Hasan to be examined by a physiatrist and a forensic psychologist.

The physiatrist was requested Aug. 11, but that request was denied Sept. 15, Maj. Chris Martin, defense attorney, said. The physiatrist is a medical doctor who diagnoses and treats pain.

The defense's request for a forensic psychiatrist was approved the day before the status conference but they did not have an appointment set for him to meet with Hasan. They requested a one-month delay following the prosecution's witness testimony in order for the psychiatrist to meet with Hasan and develop mitigating psychological evidence.

This is the second forensic psychiatrist approved for the defense. The first, approved in January, is no longer with the defense because of "irreconcilable differences" with Hasan, Henricks said.

Pohl deferred ruling on the delay. He gave the defense until Oct. 1 to specify a date for Hasan's psychological testing and the dates they request for the delay.

The Article 32 hearing is scheduled to begin Oct. 12 with prosecution witness testimony.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16