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Fort Hood trial resumes as lawyers demand removal

Standby team adamant defendant trying to secure death sentence

  • Fort-Hood-Shooting-19

    Media film in preparation of the start of the court-martial of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013, in Fort Hood, Texas. After years of delays, the trial of the man who carried out the Fort Hood shooting is starting with Hasan representing himself against charges of murder and attempted murder for the 2009 attack that left 13 people dead on the Army post. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

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    Reporters that will observe the court-martial of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan are escorted to the courthouse Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013, in Fort Hood, Texas. After years of delays, the trial of the man who carried out the Fort Hood shooting is starting, with Hasan representing himself against charges of murder and attempted murder for the 2009 attack that left 13 people dead on the Army post. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Fort-Hood-Shooting-22

    A U.S. solider stands guard outside where the court-martial of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is beginning, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013, in Fort Hood, Texas. After years of delays, the trial of the man who carried out the Fort Hood shooting is starting, with Hasan representing himself against charges of murder and attempted murder for the 2009 attack that left 13 people dead on the Army post. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Fort-Hood-Shooting-23

    Soldiers guard a security checkpoint outside the Lawrence H. Williams Judicial Center on the second day of the trial for Maj. Nidal Hasan at Fort Hood, Texas on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013. The standby attorney for the soldier charged in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage accused Hasan on Wednesday of deliberately charting a course toward a conviction and death sentence, abruptly halting the trial after only one day. Lt. Col. Kris Poppe, Hasan's lead court-appointed standby attorney, said he is willing to step in and be Hasan's defense lawyer. But he asked that his responsibilities as co-counsel be minimized if Hasan, who is representing himself at trial, continues to work toward being executed. (AP Photo/San Antonio Express-News,Lisa Krantz)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Mideast-Yemen-Al-Qaida-Glance-1

    FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Bell County Sheriff's Department shows Nidal Hasan, who is charged in the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood that left 13 dead and more than 30 others wounded. The Hasan case prompted a slew of finger-pointing among government agencies over why more action wasn't taken when red flags appeared, particularly his e-mail contact with a radical cleric in Yemen. (AP Photo/Bell County Sheriff's Department, File)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Fort-Hood-Shooting-20

    In this courtroom sketch, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan sits in court for his court-martial Tuesday in Fort Hood, Texas. Hasan is representing himself against charges of murder and attempted murder for the 2009 attack that left 13 people dead at Forth Hood.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

Fort-Hood-Shooting-20

In this courtroom sketch, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan sits in court for his court-martial Tuesday in Fort Hood, Texas. Hasan is representing himself against charges of murder and attempted murder for the 2009 attack that left 13 people dead at Forth Hood.

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FORT HOOD, Texas  —A military judge resumed the Fort Hood shooting trial today despite demands from the suspect’s standby attorneys that they be removed from the case.

The military defense lawyers ordered to help Maj. Nidal Hasan represent himself during his murder trial had asked to take over the case Wednesday, saying they believed Hasan was trying to secure himself a death sentence.

The judge, Col. Tara Osborn, denied that request today, saying it was clear the lawyers simply disagreed with Hasan’s defense strategy. But the attorneys were adamant and said they would appeal to a higher court.

“We believe your order is causing us to violate our rules of professional conduct,” Lt. Col. Kris Poppe told the judge.

Osborn briefly recessed the trial, but the hearing later resumed and jurors were allowed in after the standby attorneys were told to continue in their current duties.

Poppe had told the judge that if Hasan were allowed to continue on his own, they wanted their roles minimized so Hasan couldn’t ask them for help with a strategy they oppose. They said they couldn’t watch Hasan fulfill a death wish.

“It becomes clear his goal is to remove impediments or obstacles to the death penalty and is working toward a death penalty,” Poppe told the judge on Wednesday. That strategy, he argued, “is repugnant to defense counsel and contrary to our professional obligations.”

Hasan gave a brief opening statement during the trial’s first day Tuesday that included claiming responsibility for the attack that killed 13 people at the Texas military post. He posed no questions to most witnesses and rarely spoke. On one of the few times he did talk, it was to get on the record that the alleged murder weapon was his -- even though no one had asked.

Sometimes he took notes, but he mostly looked forward impassively.

The prosecutor, Col. Michael Mulligan, defended Hasan’s strategy, saying today that it would have been “absurd” for Hasan to contest the facts of what happened the day of the attack in November 2009.

Mulligan said Hasan appeared to be taking on a “tried and true” defense strategy of not contesting the facts but rather offering an alternative reason about why they occurred.

“I’m really perplexed as to how it’s caused such a moral dilemma,” Mulligan told the judge.

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