It was expected that a judge would order the Army psychiatrist responsible for the 2009 Fort Hood deadly shooting to shave his beard. If this occurs, the trial could be delayed once again. The order will be issued this week by Col. Gregory Gross and he will preside over a hearing that will decide how a federal religious freedom law pertains to the case of Maj. Nidal Hasan. Testifying at the hearing will be witnesses for the prosecutors and the attorneys for Hasan.
Army regulations state that beards are illegal and anyone who disobeys the rules can have their beards shaved for them. Hasan began growing his beard while in jail this summer. Gross has said that the beard disrupts court hearings. At the previous six pretrial hearings, Gross declared that Hasan was in contempt of court. Hasan was then moved to a trailer to watch the hearings on a television.
Hasan has been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder premeditated murder stemming from the 2009 attack at Fort Hood. Hasan claims he grew the beard not out of disrespect for the Army but because his Muslim religion requires it. Gross wants Hasan to be in the room when the court-martial occurs so an appeal can be prevented if Hasan is convicted.
It is expected that Gross will rule Thursday that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 does not overrule regulations from the Army that are created to enforce discipline and order. The act was created to prevent laws that hurt how people exercise their religion.
The judge presiding over the case is not permitted to accept guilty pleas for the charges of premeditated murder filed against Hasan. The reason for this is that the government is asking for the death penalty in the case. Hasan has made it known that he wants to plead guilty to the premeditated murder charges.