Atty: Fort Hood suspect may use insanity defense
November 24, 2009 By The Associated Press ANGELA K. BROWN (Associated Press Writer)
FORT WORTH, Texas - FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — An Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people during an attack on his Texas post will likely plead not guilty to the charges against him and may use an insanity defense at his military trial, his attorney said Monday.
John Galligan, the civilian attorney for Maj. Nidal Hasan, said he is considering an insanity defense among other options, but that it's too early to determine his defense strategy.
"Based on the evidence thus far, his mental status must be raised," Galligan told The Associated Press by phone from his office near Fort Hood, about 130 miles southwest of Dallas. "Anybody who allegedly engages in conduct that is completely contradictory to his lifestyle and military career — an insanity defense has to be considered."
Hasan has been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder in the Nov. 5 shooting at Fort Hood, and military officials have said they may file more charges. More than two dozen others were wounded in the shooting spree, which happened at a building where soldiers finalize their wills and are medically screened before they are deployed.
Galligan said military law requires his client to plead not guilty if prosecutors seek the death penalty, but he said that decision has not been made.
Hasan remains in intensive care at a San Antonio military hospital, where he was taken after being shot during the attack. At a hearing in his hospital room Saturday, Hasan was ordered to remain in custody until trial.
Galligan said he is frustrated because prosecutors are taking too long to respond to his questions and requests. He said he has asked why no witnesses were allowed to testify during Saturday's hearing, and why it was closed to the news media. He said he had planned to question Hasan's commander, who in documents indicated Hasan would be moved to an unspecified hospital but did not say when.
Fort Hood officials did not immediately return calls seeking comment.