'Statutory Quorum of 13 chosen, trial to begin August 6
Ft. Hood - All three of the prospective jurors who expressed reservations about imposing the death penalty were eliminated from the line-up of jurors who ultimately sit in judgment of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan.
Two of the panelists were eliminated for cause due to, in one case, “his preconceived opinions about Maj. Hasan’s guilt,” according to Col. Tara Osborn, the military judge; in the other ruling, the judge eliminated a panelist because the officer under consideration said he would be unable to render a fair and impartial verdict due to personal feelings about a close friend who was wounded in an attack carried out by a jihadist Muslim wearing a U.S. Army uniform.
With a “statutory quorum” of 14 - 12 regular members and two alternates - the judge then asked government prosecutors if they had any peremptory challenges.
The prosecutor in charge of jury selection said that a third panelist whom the judge pronounced “death penalty qualified” in spite of government challenge for cause and his own reservations, objected to the man’s attitudes and used as an example “the way he wears his uniform.”
The prosecutor referred to the officer as an “African-American.”
He alleged the Colonel is out of uniform because he has only two rows of ribbons, instead of the requisite three rows designated by regulations for the number of service awards he displays on his tunic.
The prosecutor also objected to an incident in which the Colonel allegedly sought publicity in a case in which he looked for information in violation of the Court’s instruction as an “inability to follow the Court’s order.”
Maj. Hasan expressed no objection to the disqualifications and entered no challenges of his own.
After his elimination as a panelist, the judge declared a statutory quorum of 13 members and dismissed the panelists with an admonition not to discuss the case or do any further research about it. Testimony and presentation of evidence will begin in the case in chief on August 6.
A procedural hearing will take place Thursday at 2:30 p.m. to consider stipulations in the presentation.