Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Judge denies gag order request by Hasan prosecutors

Ft. Hood - Parties to the Hasan murder trial will not be subject to a gag order requested by prosecutors.

Judge Tara Osborn ruled that “extra judicial commentary” will be allowed in denying the motion.

Government prosecutors will first have to present factual testimony about Maj. Abu Nidal Malik Hasan’s e-mails to an Al Qaeda Mullah before the jury will hear about its relevance.

The military judge hearing the case said a stipulation as to the authenticity of the communication does not prove relevance during opening statements.

“My concern is the e-mails are some kind of guilt by association,” said Col. Osborn. She added that one of the e-mails Hasan sent to Mullah Anwar Awlaki, an Al Qaeda operative who lost his life in a stealth drone rocket attack in Yemen, “appears to be defense of others” in its content, a defense which she disallowed in a previous ruling.

In the e-mail, the judge ruled, Hasan appeared to be saying he felt a suicide bomber is justified in an attack to prevent the possibility that fellow jihadists could lose their lives the following day.

“My point is that e-mail would be very confusing to the members (of the general court martial panel),” the judge said.

Hasan asked for additional time to prepare a defense of others defense, a request which the judge previously denied.

“I haven’t changed my mind,” she told him.

Jurors will view an 8-minute video of the crime scene made by FBI investigators and see selected photos of the autopsies of the victims on individual 19-inch monitors during opening statements.

A photo of a convicted terrorist attacker Sgt. Hasan Akbar, a devout Muslim, wearing a bullet proof vest following his trial will not be allowed.

Sgt. Akbar attacked and killed fellow soldiers with fragmentation grenades at Camp Pennsylvania, Kuwait, in 2003.  He is awaiting execution on death row at the Army Disciplinary Barracks, Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.

Dashcam video and audio of 911 calls will be allowed when the government opens its case against Hasan in opening statements to be made on August 6. The dying groans and labored breathing of a victim, Michel Pearson, can be heard in the background of one of the audio recordings.

A final pre-trial hearing to consider stipulation as to the testimony of Officer Todd will be held Friday, August 2 at 9 a.m. Officer Todd has developed a speech impediment as a result of wounds inflicted by Hasan.

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