US Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan’s trial on charges he murdered 13 people and tried to kill 32 more in the Fort Hood massacre in 2009 has been delayed — again — as the defense appeals the trial judge’s demand that Hasan be shaved — forcibly, if necessary.
Hasan has grown the beard in violation of Army regulations, and Gross has not allowed him to stay in the courtroom, saying the beard is a disruption. However, the judge said he wants Hasan in the room during the court-martial to prevent a possible appeal on the issue if he is convicted. He said Hasan would be forcibly shaved at some point before the trial if he didn’t shave the beard himself.
While there are thousands of Muslims in the US military, there is no indication any have made an application for or received a religious accommodation request to wear a beard. The only known religious exemptions for non-Chaplains are three Sikhs (two medical officers, one Soldier) who entered the US Army over the past two years.
While Hasan’s virtual protégé has already been sentenced to life in prison for his attempted attack last year, the families of the victims of the Fort Hood shooting — which occurred three years ago — seem to be patiently waiting:
The delay is frustrating for many involved in the case, although some victims’ relatives say they have grown accustomed to waiting for the trial to start. The shooting rampage happened almost three years ago.
“I stopped holding my breath a long time ago as far as expecting to get any closure regarding the trial,” said Leila Hunt Willingham, whose brother Jason Dean “J.D.” Hunt was killed in the shooting.
Hasan apparently wants to plead guilty to the charges “for religious reasons,” though such a plea is reportedly not permitted in capital cases.