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Judge bars most motive evidence in Fort Hood trial

Aug. 19, 2013 - 12:47PM   |  
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FORT HOOD, TEXAS — The U.S. judge overseeing the Fort Hood shooting trial has blocked prosecutors from using several witnesses and most evidence they’d sought to explain the alleged motive behind the 2009 attack.

Nidal Hasan is accused of killing 13 people and wounding more than 30 at the Texas military base. The shooting occurred as soldiers, including Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, were preparing to be sent to Afghanistan.

The judge on Monday told prosecutors they couldn’t reference Hasan Akbar, a Muslim soldier sentenced to death for attacking fellow U.S. soldiers in Kuwait during the 2003 Iraq invasion. Prosecutors wanted to suggest a copycat attack.

But the judge said Akbar wasn’t on trial and introduction of such material would result in a “confusion of issues, unfair prejudice, waste of time and undo delay.”

Prosecutors also were barred from introducing three emails. They hadn’t disclosed details about them, but the FBI has said Hasan sent numerous emails to Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical U.S.-born Islamic cleric killed by a drone strike in Yemen in 2011.

The judge said the emails would have to be redacted to a point that would make them irrelevant.

But the judge is allowing evidence about Internet searches on Hasan’s computer around the time of the attack and websites that Hasan had listed as “favorites.”

Prosecutors indicated Friday that they had between 15 and 25 witnesses left, meaning Hasan could get his chance to defend himself as early as Tuesday or Wednesday.

Hasan — who is acting as his own attorney — could face the death penalty if convicted.

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