Judge won't let Fort Hood suspect plead guilty

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by Associated Press

Associated Press

Posted on March 20, 2013 at 6:54 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 21 at 9:47 AM

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) -- A military judge says an Army psychiatrist cannot plead guilty to any charges in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage.

Maj. Nidal Hasan wanted to plead guilty to 13 counts of premeditated murder. But Army rules prohibit a judge from accepting a guilty plea to charges carrying the death penalty.

Hasan's attorneys still had asked the judge, Col. Tara Osborn, to let Hasan plead guilty to lesser charges of unpremeditated murder. He still would have gone to trial in May and faced a possible death sentence if the judge had allowed the plea.

But Osborn said Wednesday that Hasan will not be allowed to plead guilty even to the lesser charges.

A terrorism consultant says the Army psychiatrist charged in the Fort Hood shooting rampage visited terror groups' websites before the 2009 attack.

The judge in Maj. Nidal Hasan's case will decide if Evan Kohlmann will be an expert witness at the trial starting in May.

Kohlmann acknowledged at Wednesday's pretrial hearing that he couldn't prove Hasan listened to terror leaders' sermons that were downloaded onto his laptop.

Kohlmann said Hasan watched a news broadcast containing audio of Osama bin Laden. Defense attorneys played the video where a journalist talked about bin Laden's audio message.

Wednesday the judge also ruled the trial will stay on post and set the next hearing in the case for April 16.

Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the shootings at the Texas Army post.

Hasan, an American-born Muslim, faces the death penalty if convicted.

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