Judge Throws Out 'Jihad' Evidence Against Hasan
Judge Col. Tara Osborn blocked evidence from Maj. Nidal Hasan’s trial that prosecutors said would explain his motive for opening fire at Fort Hood. Thirteen people were murdered and more than 30 were wounded in the November 2009 attack.
Prosecutors wanted to introduce evidence that showed Hasan believed he had a “jihad duty” to murder his fellow soldiers. Eighty witnesses testified for the prosecution, but they wanted to explain his motive this week. From the Associated Press:
Osborn barred any reference Hasan Akbar, a Muslim soldier sentenced to death for attacking fellow soldiers in Kuwait during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Prosecutors wanted to suggest that Hasan, an American-born Muslim, carried out a "copycat" attack.
But the judge said introducing such material would "only open the door to a mini-trial" of Akbar and result in a "confusion of issues, unfair prejudice, waste of time and undue delay."
The judge said prosecutors also couldn't introduce three emails, ruling that the needed redactions would make them irrelevant. The contents of the emails weren't disclosed, but the FBI has said Hasan sent numerous emails starting in December 2008 to Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical U.S.-born Islamic cleric killed by a drone strike in Yemen in 2011.
Osborn did say the prosecution can use Hasan’s computer, his Internet searches and which websites he marked as favorites, but only around the time of the attack.
Reed Rubinstein, an attorney representing the victims and their relatives in a civil lawsuit against the government, did not approve of Osborn’s ruling. He does not understand how the emails are irrelevant. The AP reports:
He also blamed the government for dragging out Hasan's case and making some evidence too old to be considered. In Monday's ruling, the judge said prosecutors couldn't cite Hasan's interest years ago in conscientious objector status and his past academic presentations because both were too old and irrelevant.
"The reason for that is the procedural pretzels the government has tied itself in to protect Hasan," Rubinstein said, noting that the trial was originally delayed because of a fight over whether Hasan could keep his beard, which violates military policy.
The prosecution is expected to rest this week. That means Hasan, who is acting as his own attorney, may have to speak to the court. He has been silent the majority of the time except when he challenged the definition of jihad and cross examined witness Staff Sgt. Juan Alvarado.