By Angela K. Brown
FORT HOOD, Texas — A military judge on Friday once again held the Fort Hood shooting suspect in contempt of court for showing up to a pretrial hearing with a beard he had been ordered to shave.
Maj. Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, was fined $1,000 for a second time. The judge, Col. Gregory Gross, then sent Hasan to a nearby trailer to watch the rest of the hearing on closed-circuit television, as he has done since showing up with a beard at a June hearing.
Beards are a violation of Army regulations. Hasan's attorneys say he keeps declining to shave because he believes that doing so would violate his Muslim faith.
Last week, the judge held Hasan in contempt and fined him $1,000. Gross said Hasan would be forcibly shaved at some point before his Aug. 20 trial if he doesn't shave the beard himself. He said he wants Hasan in the courtroom during the court-martial to prevent a possible appeal on the issue if he is convicted.
Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the November 2009 attack on the Texas Army post. Hasan, 41, faces the death penalty or life in prison without parole if convicted.
Gross on Friday also ordered a pretrial hearing next week to hear from a prosecution witness and determine if he will testify during the trial. Defense attorneys are challenging the validity of the expert witness, who plans to testify that Hasan is a "homegrown terrorist," according to previous pretrial hearing discussions. A defense expert witness may testify at the hearing to counter the prosecution team's witness.
Gross also approved a defense request for another expert to testify about extenuating circumstances and mitigating factors regarding Hasan's re-commitment to his religious conversion. Prosecutors had objected, saying the defense team already has a mitigation expert and was trying to make the trial more favorable to their client.
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Copyright 2012 Associated Press