Judge Says Hood Suspect Could be Forcibly Shaved
FORT HOOD, Texas - An Army psychiatrist charged with killing 13 people in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood will be forcibly shaved if he doesn't remove his beard himself, a judge said Wednesday.
Maj. Nidal Hasan appeared in court Wednesday sporting a beard as he did during a court appearance last month. The beard violates Army regulations, but Hasan said it is an expression of his Muslim faith.
The judge, Col. Gregory Gross, held Hasan in contempt of court for keeping the beard and fined him $1,000.
Fort Hood spokesman Chris Haug said Gross gave Hasan the choice to shave on his own or be forcibly shaved sometime before his court-martial begins Aug. 20.
Hasan again refused to shave and watched the rest of the day's hearing outside the courtroom.
Hasan, 41, is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the November 2009 massacre, the worst shooting incident on a U.S. military post. He faces the death penalty if convicted.
Until last month, he had been clean-shaven every time he attended court.
But since Hasan grew a beard, he and one of his attorneys have watched the pretrial hearings on closed-circuit television in a trailer near the courthouse. He refuses to shave, and Gross has indicated that Hasan might have to watch the court-martial from the trailer as well.
But on Wednesday, Gross said he wanted Hasan in the courtroom to prevent a possible appeal on the issue if Hasan is convicted.
Hasan's defense attorneys argued that he had not shaved in observance of the holy Islamic month of Ramadan. Ramadan is expected to end just before the court-martial starts.
Also Wednesday, Gross said he would review a copy of a new FBI report on the shootings. The report, made public last week, includes emails Hasan sent to Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Islamic cleric killed in Yemen last year by a drone strike.
The emails range from rambling messages about supporting terrorists and U.S. soldiers killing comrades in the name of Islam to questions about whether al-Awlaki could help him find a suitable wife. The emails attracted the attention of FBI and anti-terrorism task force agents in December 2008.
But authorities did not pursue a case against Hasan, according to the report, due to a series of gaps and miscommunication errors.