FORT HOOD, Texas — A military officer yesterday rejected a defense request to keep an upcoming hearing about last year’s Fort Hood massacre closed, saying the public and the victims’ families have a right to hear testimony from those affected by the attack.
Colonel James L. Pohl, a military judge acting as the investigating officer in the case, said that keeping next month’s hearing open would preserve the integrity of the military justice system. He previously said he planned to call the 32 people injured in the shooting to testify during the Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent to grand jury proceedings.
Major Nidal Hasan, a 40-year-old Army psychiatrist, is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the Nov. 5 shootings at the Texas Army post. Military prosecutors have not said whether they would seek the death penalty, should Pohl determine that there is enough evidence to warrant a trial.
John Galligan, an attorney for Hasan, sought to keep the hearing closed, saying allowing the public to hear the testimony from nearly three dozen witnesses would create even more pretrial publicity. He plans to appeal yesterday’s ruling.
Galligan said that a
Pohl said some Article 32 hearings are closed, but usually by the government or when involving sexual assault cases. Military prosecutors did not want Hasan’s hearing closed.
Pohl also denied a defense request to exclude autopsy reports from being presented at the October hearing.
Yesterday’s hearing was Hasan’s second appearance in a Fort Hood courtroom. He did not speak during the hearing, and wore his Army combat uniform.
Hasan was paralyzed from the chest down after being shot by Fort Hood police officers.
The hearings are expected to last several weeks.