Belton – Bomb-sniffing dogs fanned out through the justice center and the County Jail and the downtown Courthouse today following a threatening phone call at 10:45 a.m.
Visitors and court staff sweated out the threat involving Major Abu Nidal Malik Hasan, who has been an inmate there in an isolated intensive care cell for three years, at the Bell County Expo Center.
An unidentified male reportedly made the threat in a brief phone call that named a specific time the bomb would be detonated. As the hour came and went, staff was allowed to return to the jail and courts complex after 1 p.m.
According to officials, the threat was non-specific, but did involve Maj. Hasan, a former Army psychiatrist who is standing trial in a general court martial for the capital murder of 13 unarmed soldiers and wounding 32 others with a powerful handgun.
Maj. Hasan was in court yesterday at Ft. Hood, where the Army judge, Col. Tara Osborn, denied him a 3-month continuance to develop his defense after earlier rejecting his proposed “defense of others” as one with “no legal basis.” He explained to the Court that when he began to shoot people at the Soldier Readiness Center after shouting “God is Great” in Arabic, he was acting in defense of the lives of the Mullah Omar and other leaders of the Taliban in the Emirate of Afghanistan.
Though the Rules of Courts Martial allow deadly force used to defend the lives of others as a valid affirmative defense in military capital murder cases, the judge rejected the motion after exclaiming, “Let me get this straight. These people were where?”
“And you were here? At Ft. Hood?”
Maj. Hasan withdrew his motion for continuance yesterday voluntarily.
Jury selection will begin on July 9 with a start date for the trial of August 6.