(AP) FORT HOOD, Texas - The trial for an Army psychiatrist charged in the deadly 2009 Fort Hood shooting has been put on hold while an appeals court considers his objections to being forcibly shaved.
Maj. Nidal Hasan had been scheduled to enter a plea Wednesday to charges in the attack at the Texas Army post, but all court proceedings were put on hold before he could do that.
According to a defense motion, Hasan indicated he wanted to plead guilty for religious reasons. Hasan is an American-born Muslim.
But the judge, Col. Gregory Gross, said he could not accept a guilty plea on the 13 charges of premeditated murder. That's because the charges carry death as the maximum punishment and the government is pursuing the death penalty in Hasan's case.
The trial that was to start Monday will be on hold until the Army appeals court rules on Hasan's objection to being shaved.
Hasan's attorneys have said he won't shave because the beard he has grown in violation of Army regulations is an expression of his Muslim faith. But Gross said Hasan would be forcibly shaved at some point before the trial if he didn't shave the beard himself. He said he wants Hasan in the courtroom during the court-martial to prevent a possible appeal on the issue if he is convicted.
Gross previously delayed Hasan's trial from March to June and then to August. On Tuesday, he refused defense attorneys' request to delay the start of the trial again and said it would begin with jury selection as scheduled Monday.
Defense attorneys argued in their latest request that they had not been able to look through 26 boxes of documents, including thousands of pages of Hasan's medical records and jail logs which prosecutors said they will not use during the trial.
Prosecutors have a 265-person witness list for Hasan's trial, including a terrorism consultant who says the American-born Muslim meets several factors indicating he's a home-grown terrorist.