by Rick Jervis, USA TODAY
FORT HOOD, Texas - The court-martial of Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, accused of killing 13 American soldiers here four years ago, was nearing its end Monday as it enters its third week. Prosecutors, who have called nearly 80 witnesses so far, could wrap up their case in the next few days.
Hasan, who is representing himself, has rarely cross-examined witnesses or mounted much of a defense, speeding the case significantly. Hasan, 42, could face the death penalty if convicted. He's accused of killing 13 people and injuring 32 in a shooting rampage at the Soldier Readiness Processing Center building on Nov. 5, 2009. He has admitted to the jury that he was the gunman.
The judge overseeing the case blocked prosecutors Monday from using several witnesses and most evidence they had sought to explain the alleged motive behind the 2009 attack.
Prosecutors had asked the military judge to approve evidence and several witnesses to explain Hasan's mindset. The evidence included references to Hasan Akbar, a Muslim soldier sentenced to death for attacking fellow soldiers in Kuwait during the 2003 Iraq invasion. Prosecutors wanted to suggest a copycat motive.
But the judge, Col. Tara Osborn, barred prosecutors from referencing Akbar, saying Akbar wasn't on trial and introduction of such material would "only open the door to a mini trial." She also said it would result in a "confusion of issues, unfair prejudice, waste of time and undo delay."
Osborn also told prosecutors that they couldn't cite Hasan's interest years ago in conscientious objector status and his past academic presentations. Osborn said such evidence was too old and irrelevant.
However, the judge will allow evidence about Internet searches on Hasan's computer around the time of the attack and websites that Hasan had listed as "favorites."
Prosecutors earlier indicated that they had up to 25 witnesses left, meaning Hasan could get his chance to defend himself as early as Tuesday or Wednesday. He signaled before trial that he had just two witnesses.
Hasan could be sentenced to death if convicted.
Contributing: Associated Press
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