Judge mulls issue of expert neurologist for accused Fort Hood shooter
CNN — A military judge will consider Friday whether the government should pay for an expert neurologist for Maj. Nidal Hasan, the military psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood.
The request is one of several motions the judge, Col. Gregory Gross, will take up during the pre-trial hearing scheduled to begin mid-morning, military officials at the base said.
Hasan faces a possible death penalty when he goes on trial on August 20. The military has charged Hasan with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in connection with the November 5, 2009, shootings.
Hasan's court-martial, initially slated to begin in March, has been twice delayed at the request of the defense, which has said it needs more time to review the evidence in the case.
Much has been made about Hasan's mental health following the attack at a building at Fort Hood, where he is accused of opening fire on soldiers who were waiting to be screened and complete paperwork before deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the aftermath of the shootings, radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki told Aljazeera.net that he had communicated with Hasan for about a year before the soldier allegedly went on the rampage. Al-Awaki, a leading figure in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was killed in a U.S. drone strike that targeted him in Yemen in 2011.
The U.S. government has refused to confirm reports that its intelligence agencies monitored Hasan's alleged e-mail contacts with al-Awlaki.
The shootings at Fort Hood rocked the military community, and immediately raised questions about Hasan's mental health.
There were also questions about how he was evaluated, promoted and transferred to Fort Hood with plans to deploy to Afghanistan despite signs that he was having problems.
A military review of Hasan's records in the aftermath of the massacre found the alleged shooter was promoted despite his supervisors' concerns about his extremist views on Islam and odd behavior.
A congressional report labeled him "a smoking gun," and ripped into the government for not sounding an alarm sooner.
As Hasan's case has moved through the military judicial system, the families of the victims filed suit in November 2011 seeking $750 million in compensation for the government for failing to stop the attacks.
Hasan, who was shot by a civilian police officer at Fort Hood during the attack, is paralyzed from the chest down.
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