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Soldier Sleeps At Own Murder Trial

A U.S. Army sergeant accused in a deadly grenade attack on fellow members of the 101st Airborne Division is being sent to Kentucky for a sleep study to address his inability to stay awake during court hearings.

A military prosecutor said Monday that Sgt. Hasan Akbar will be scheduled for the study of his sleep problems, which have been an issue in pretrial hearings.

Akbar, 32, is charged with killing two soldiers and wounding 14 others last year in Kuwait during the opening days of the Iraq war. His court-martial was set to begin July 12.

Col. Patrick Parrish, the military judge overseeing the case, had to awaken Akbar during a hearing earlier this month.

"Sgt. Akbar, Sgt. Akbar, are you with us?" Parrish asked, according to Army Public Affairs.

Civilian defense attorney Wazir Ali Muhammad Al-Haqq said Akbar told him that medication he was given to treat his sleep apnea had been ineffective. The defense has said Akbar's sleep problem will be part of their case at trial.

Apnea is a condition that causes sufferers to periodically stop breathing while asleep and can often make people drowsy in a quiet or monotonous environment.

Defense lawyers also asked the judge to quash a statement by an officer who said Akbar confessed to him the night of the attack. No ruling was made.

Maj. Kyle Warren, intelligence officer for the 1st Brigade of the 101st, testified that after the attack, he was told Akbar was missing and that he found him at the edge of the camp with other soldiers, who had taken defensive positions after grenade explosions.

Warren said he restrained the soldier and asked: "Did you bomb a tent? He said: 'Yes.'"

In other developments during the morning session of Monday's hearing, Parrish denied defense motions aimed at eliminating the death penalty as possible punishment for Akbar.

He also denied a motion to have members of the military jury panel who will hear the case selected at random. The defense has contended the pool for the jury is top-heavy with commanders who might not be fair to Akbar.

The case against Akbar is the first time since the Vietnam War that a U.S. Army soldier has been prosecuted in the murder or attempted murder of another soldier during wartime, the Army has said.

Prosecutors allege that Akbar stole seven grenades on March 23, 2003, and used them in the attack, killing two men by throwing grenades into their sleeping tents. Akbar's lawyers have said there were no witnesses to the crime and Akbar was accused because he is Muslim.

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