FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — A jury was selected Tuesday to hear the case against an Army psychiatrist accused in the Fort Hood shooting that killed 13 soldiers. The long-awaited murder trial is set to begin next month.
Maj. Nidal Hasan has said that he killed U.S. troops at the Army post because they posed an imminent threat to Taliban leaders in Afghanistan.
The jury panel comprising 13 officers will hear the case against Hasan, who is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder. Hasan faces the death penalty if convicted in the November 2009 attack at the Central Texas Army post.
There are nine colonels, three lieutenant colonels and one major on the panel, the Killeen Daily Herald reported. They were brought in from Army posts nationwide for questioning.
Two officers on the panel have said they are skeptical about the death penalty, the Austin American-Statesman reported. They did not appear to feel as strongly about capital punishment as two other officers who were dismissed Tuesday.
Col. Tara Osborn, the military judge overseeing the court-martial, agreed to dismiss one officer who admitted he had already decided on whether Hasan was guilty.
Prosecutors used their lone challenge to strike the second dismissed officer, the Statesman reported.
Death penalty cases in the military require at least 12 jurors, more than in other cases. All members of the panel must approve a death sentence.
Hasan is serving as his own attorney. He did not use his challenge and asked only a few questions of potential jurors, including asking one colonel about whether he felt he would be disobeying God or his church by imposing the death penalty.
He wore a camouflage uniform worn by troops in combat, not the dress uniform usually worn by defendants in a court-martial. He also has kept a beard that he says is an expression of his Muslim faith, though it violates Army rules on grooming.
Hasan recently told Osborn that he killed U.S. troops at the Army post because they posed an imminent threat to Taliban leaders in Afghanistan — a strategy known as “defense of others.” Osborn earlier rejected that argument and refused to allow him to ask potential jurors questions related to it.
The trial is set to start Aug. 6.