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Judge reviews Texas suspect’s jury queries

Rejects about a third Hasan wants to ask

FORT HOOD, Texas — The Army psychiatrist charged in the deadly 2009 Fort Hood shootings can ask potential jurors if they would consider punishment other than execution for someone who killed for religious reasons, a judge said Wednesday.

Major Nidal Hasan, who is serving as his own lawyer, also can ask potential jurors if they would consider remorse — or a lack thereof — in determining a convicted murderer’s punishment, the judge ruled.

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Jury selection in his court-martial is to begin July 9 and last at least four weeks.

Hasan, an American-born Muslim, faces the death penalty or life without parole if convicted of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the massacre on the Texas Army post.

At a hearing Tuesday, the judge, Colonel Tara Osborn, rejected about a third of the 100-plus questions Hasan wanted to ask military jurors.

Osborn read only a few of them aloud in court.

One question she rejected references other mass shootings and the Boston Marathon bombings.

She also said Hasan can’t ask if the jury pool feels that killing 12 soldiers and a retired soldier was a ‘‘horrific act.’’

Osborn threw out all of Hasan’s questions related to his ‘‘defense of others’’ strategy she previously barred him from using.

It means that a killing was necessary to prevent the immediate harm or death of others.

Hasan recently told the judge he killed US troops at the Army post because they posed an imminent threat to Taliban leaders in Afghanistan.

Osborn also refused Hasan’s request for a delay to hire a lawyer. Hasan said Ramsey Clark — who served as US attorney general under President Lyndon Johnson and as a lawyer for the dictators Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic — offered to represent him after hearing about his proposed ‘‘defense of others’’ strategy.

Hasan told the judge he needed a three-day delay to talk to Clark. She said Hasan could hire a new lawyer only if that person is ready by July 9.

Hasan said if he couldn’t hire Clark, he would continue representing himself. The judge has told Hasan’s former lawyers to be ready to help if he asks.

Osborn noted Hasan’s request came on the eve of the trial, which has been delayed several times.

Osborn also entered a not-guilty plea for Hasan, 42, after he refused to enter a plea.

Hasan told the judge Tuesday he earlier tried to plead guilty after his ‘‘Muslim community’’ told him his actions went against Islamic teachings.

But he said he later came to believe his actions weren’t wrong because of the war in Afghanistan.

Under military law, a death penalty case requires a plea of not guilty.

The judge previously refused to remove death as a punishment option in Hasan’s case after he asked to plead guilty.

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