FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) - An Army psychiatrist charged with gunning down Fort Hood soldiers said Tuesday his defense would show he was compelled to do so because deploying U.S. troops posed an imminent danger to Taliban fighters.
The military judge asked Maj. Nidal Hasan if he has evidence to support his "defense of others" strategy. Such a defense requires Hasan to prove the 2009 killings were necessary to protect others from immediate harm or death, and military law experts not involved in the case said the judge is unlikely to allow him to present that defense.
"A "defense of others' strategy is not going to work when you're at war and the "others' are enemies of the U.S.," said Jeff Addicott, director of the Center for Terrorism Law at St. Mary's University in San Antonio.
While Hasan's argument may have been a bit more sympathetic if he said the rampage was necessary to protect Muslim women and children, that defense strategy does not apply in a war situation, said Lisa M. Windsor, a retired Army colonel and former judge advocate. Still, it's unclear what Hasan may present because attorneys are not allowed to give evidence themselves, said Windsor, an attorney specializing in military law.
The court-martial had been scheduled to start with jury selection Wednesday, two days after Hasan was granted his request to represent himself. Hasan, an American-born Muslim, then requested a three-month delay to give him more time to prepare his defense.
The military judge, Col. Tara Osborn, was to rule Wednesday on Hasan's trial delay request after hearing more about his defense.
Hasan, 42, faces the death penalty or life without parole if convicted of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the 2009 attack at the Army post in Texas.
At a hearing Tuesday, Osborn asked what evidence Hasan had to support his defense. Hasan said Taliban leader Mullah Omar and "leadership of the Taliban in general" were in immediate danger from American troops on the Texas Army post, because "the U.S. has attacked and continued to attack the Taliban."
Retired Staff Sgt. Shawn Manning, shot six times that day, said five of the 13 killed at Fort Hood were in two units that had been training to help soldiers deal with stress and mental health issues. Deployed soldiers in those units are allowed to fire their weapons only in self-defense, Manning said.
"It makes me sick to my stomach" that Hasan would use such a defense strategy, Manning said.