Image: U.S. Major Nidal Hasan
Major Nidal Hasan is charged with premeditated murder and attempted premeditated murder in the Nov. 5 attack, which killed 13 people and wounded 32 others.
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updated 10/12/2010 3:00:51 PM ET 2010-10-12T19:00:51

A military hearing to determine whether an Army psychiatrist should go to trial for last year's deadly Fort Hood shootings was unexpectedly stalled Tuesday, without testimony from any of the dozens of survivors, after defense attorneys requested a monthlong delay.

Col. James L. Pohl, a military judge acting as the investigating officer in the case of Maj. Nidal Hasan, said he would rule Wednesday on the defense request to start the Article 32 hearing Nov. 8.

Lt. Col. Kris Poppe said the delay was necessary because of certain issues but did not elaborate. He said attorneys needed a day to prepare the request in writing, and Pohl adjourned the hearing until Wednesday.

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"We're not operating on a time limit or clock," Pohl said. "We've got to protect everybody's right."

Hasan, 40, is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the Nov. 5 attack, the worst mass shooting at an American military base. The Article 32 hearing will determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed with a trial.

The start of Tuesday's proceeding was stalled for nearly 3 hours because of what Pohl described as scheduling issues. Later, Col. Michael Mulligan, the lead prosecutor, told Pohl that the defense has had months to prepare and he opposes any further delays.

The start of the proceeding was stalled for more than 2 1/2 hours because of what Pohl described as scheduling issues.

Tuesday was the third time Hasan appeared in a military courtroom for a hearing, and he did not speak as he sat in his wheelchair wearing his Army combat uniform. He pulled a knit cap over his ears and glanced around the room a couple of times, but otherwise looked at Pohl or his attorneys.

He was paralyzed from the chest down after being shot by Fort Hood police officers on Nov. 5, and since then he has been in custody. First he was in a San Antonio hospital and since April has been jailed in Bell County, which houses military suspects for nearby Fort Hood. The military justice system does not offer bail.

A few relatives of the victims who were in court Tuesday showed no reaction and appeared not to look in Hasan's direction.

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At least one soldier wounded in the attack was seen in a courthouse room. Prosecutors had planned to start calling witnesses Tuesday in the hearing expected to last at least three weeks.

Shortly after the hearing began, Poppe renewed a request that the hearing be closed to the public. Pohl denied the request as he had done last month, after defense attorneys said an open hearing would jeopardize Hasan's right to a fair trial because nearly three dozen injured victims were to testify.

After the hearing John Galligan, Hasan's lead defense attorney, declined to say why the defense team asked for the delay or explain the issues mentioned court.

"Nothing can be said," Galligan said. "We have work to do."

At the military base early Tuesday, barriers blocked the front of the courthouse and soldiers stopped and searched all vehicles. Courtroom spectators passed through metal detectors, and green cloth covered fences were set up at the rear of the courthouse to prevent photographers from catching even a glimpse of Hasan as he arrived.

Only 10 members of the media were allowed in the 55-seat courtroom, and the rest could watch the proceedings from a live closed-circuit television feed in room in another building. More than 100 journalists from various agencies were at Fort Hood on Tuesday.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Gates expands review of Fort Hood shootings

  1. Closed captioning of: Gates expands review of Fort Hood shootings

    >> tom costello, thank you.

    >>> also today in washington smshgs hot-button words like terrorism and political correctness and hearings on capitol hill about those mass shootings at ft. hood in texas. and the army major, the psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people. now there's a top-to-bottom review under way into all of the mixed signals in this case. our report tonight from our pentagon correspondent jim miklaszewski .

    >> joint terrorism task force --

    >> reporter: in the first public hearing on the ft. hood shootings, several senators today called it a terrorist attack . they also wanted to know how army and federal lawmen missed a long list of warning signs about the alleged shooter, army xricht nidal hasan , raising the same haunting question that followed the attacks on 9/11.

    >> we once again must confront a troubling question, was this another failure to connect the dots?

    >> reporter: another one of those dots surfaced today. army officials confirmed a memo from a walter reed psychiatrist said hasan showed a pattern of poor judgment and lack of professionalism, inappropriately discussing religious topics with his assigned patients. but the officials don't know if the memo was passed up the chain of command .

    >> there are warning signs and red flags galore.

    >> reporter: and when a federal terrorism task force discovered hasan had exchanged more than 20 e-mails with a militant imam from al qaeda , why didn't she share that with the army or confront hasan himself.

    >> if they didn't believe him for a threat, if they believed the communications to be legitimate, why didn't you go and interview him?

    >> reporter: several senators suggested it was because hasan is a muslim.

    >> do you think that political correctness may have played some role in the fact that these dots were not connected?

    >> i know it exists, no doubt about it.

    >> reporter: president obama 's already ordered a review of all of the intelligence gathered and how it was or wasn't shared. defense secretary robert gates also announced today that both the pentagon and army would launch more wide-ranging reviews.

    >> all that is left for us to do is everything in our power to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.

    >> reporter: the pentagon reviews, separate from the criminal investigation, is due within 45 days. jim miklaszewski , nbc news, the pentagon.

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