The soldier on trial for the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood was allowed to continue representing himself on Thursday after the judge barred his standby attorneys from taking over, despite their claims that the Army psychiatrist was trying to secure his own death sentence.
The military lawyers ordered to help Maj. Nidal Hasan had asked to either be removed from the case or be allowed to take over his defense. They said they believed Hasan was trying to secure his own death sentence for the attack that killed 13 people inside a processing center at the sprawling Texas military base.
The judge, Col. Tara Osborn, denied that request Thursday in a heated exchange with the lead standby attorney, saying it was clear that the lawyers simply disagreed with Hasan’s defense strategy. Hasan has been largely silent during the trial, and he objected only once Thursday as nearly a dozen witnesses testified.
But the attorneys were adamant and said they would appeal Osborn’s ruling to a higher court.
“We believe your order is causing us to violate our rules of professional conduct,” Lt. Col. Kris Poppe told the judge. Osborn fired back that she had already heard and ruled on such arguments.
The exchange prompted Osborn to recess the trial briefly. She later ordered the attorneys to resume their advisory roles and allowed witnesses to begin testifying, including the only one Hasan briefly challenged.