FORT HOOD, Texas (Army News Service, Nov. 30, 2011) -- In a pre-trial hearing Wednesday in the case of U.S. v Maj. Nidal Hasan, defense attorneys asked the military judge, Col. Gregory Gross, to recuse himself.

At a previous hearing on Oct. 27, Gross had answered questions from the defense attorneys pertaining to the personal impact the shootings at Fort Hood on Nov. 5, 2009, had on him. Defense attorneys asked him more questions Wednesday before requesting Gross to recuse himself from the trial because of the appearance of bias.

Although present at Fort Hood the day of the shooting, Gross said he had no specific knowledge of the events as they transpired and that he has distanced himself from any news or discussion of the incident. Gross denied the defense motion, and he remains as the judge in the court-martial scheduled to begin March 5.

Defense attorneys then argued two separate motions regarding Articles I and III of the U.S. Constitution, alleging that Hasan's fundamental right to life will be violated if he is prosecuted and sentenced to death in a military court-martial.

This case is being prosecuted as a capital case, meaning the death penalty is a possible sentence if Hasan is found guilty, and under the Constitution certain procedures must be followed to ensure his rights are protected. The military court-martial process is separate and distinct from any civilian court in the U.S. and procedures are created by Congress and the president in a different manner.

The defense argued that these differences deny military defendants the same protection as civilian defendants and therefore violate the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution. Therefore, the defense has requested that this case not be tried as a capital case.

Gross did not rule on the two motions about Hasan's Constitutional rights. He also has not yet ruled on the two motions argued at the last hearing pertaining to expert assistance for the defense team. He has not indicated when a ruling may be made, and the next hearing is not yet scheduled.

Legal officials reminded that Hasan is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

(Information taken from a Fort Hood, Texas, press release.)