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Judge rejects delay request, sets start date for Fort Hood trial

FORT HOOD, Texas — Nearly four years after the deadly Fort Hood shooting rampage, the Army psychiatrist charged in the case will finally go on trial after a judge refused Tuesday to grant the defendant’s request for a three-month delay.

Jury selection in Major Nidal Hasan’s trial is set for July 9 and is expected to last four weeks. The judge said testimony will start Aug. 6 at the earliest.

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Colonel Tara Osborn, the judge, said she understands the need for a speedy trial and realizes it has been delayed several times, but said, ‘‘The court’s paramount concern is that the accused receives a fair trial.’’

Hasan, 42, requested the delay this month after the judge allowed him to represent himself at the court-martial. Hasan said he needed more time to prepare for his “defense of others’’ strategy, which must show that a killing was necessary to prevent the immediate harm or death of others.

Last week, Osborn said that defense strategy failed as a matter of law, barring Hasan from telling jurors that he shot US troops because they posed an immediate threat to Taliban leaders in Afghanistan.

Hasan, an American-born Muslim, faces the death penalty or life in prison without parole if convicted in the attack that left 13 dead and nearly three dozen wounded on the Texas Army post.

The issue of whether Hasan will use another defense strategy did not come up during Tuesday’s hearing. Military law experts say he might forego a defense theory and just try to make the government prove its case.

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