Fort Hood shooting suspect will be forcibly shaven if he doesn’t remove beard, judge says
AUSTIN, Texas (MCT) — A military judge said Wednesday that accused Fort Hood gunman Maj. Nidal Hasan will be forcibly shaven before his Aug. 20 court-martial unless the Army psychiatrist relents and agrees to remove the beard he has grown over the past two months.
Col. Gregory Gross, the judge, also found Hasan to be in contempt for violating Army grooming standards and fined him $1,000.
Gross and Hasan have been at odds over the beard since June, when Hasan appeared in court with facial hair he said he grew because of his Muslim faith. He petitioned Army officials for a religious exemption to grow the beard, but was rejected in late June. Since he appeared with the beard, Hasan has watched pretrial proceedings on closed-circuit television from a trailer outside the Fort Hood courtroom.
Gross said Wednesday he wanted Hasan in the courtroom during the court-martial to avoid a potential appeal. Hasan faces the death penalty on 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the Nov. 5, 2009, mass shooting at Fort Hood.
Army rules say prisoners who refuse to shave “may be restrained with the reasonable force necessary” to apply electric hair clippers and a restraint chair may be used. All uses of force must be videotaped and officials must produce a “detailed written report” afterward.
Also Wednesday, Gross said he would review the classified version of a recently released report on the FBI’s failures to stop Hasan before the shooting, before deciding whether it should be provided to Hasan’s legal team as part of the discovery process. That review found FBI agents dismissed emails between Hasan and an al-Qaida-linked cleric as legitimate research and balked at interviewing Hasan before the shooting because they thought it might harm his Army career.
Gross also said he would rule later on a defense request for a religion expert. He did authorize additional funding for already appointed defense experts in jury selection and mitigation, Fort Hood officials said.
Army officials have surrounded the Fort Hood courthouse with dozens of large shipping containers as a security measure in advance of Hasan’s court-martial.