FORT HOOD -- Prosecutors in the murder trial of Maj. Nidal Hasan plan to use 124 autopsy photos, crime scene and police dash-cam videos, and 911 recordings to illustrate the mayhem of Nov. 5, 2009, the worst mass shooting on a U.S. military installation.
Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, faces execution or life in prison without parole if convicted of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the case. He is acting as his own attorney in the court-martial.
Military judge Col. Tara Osborn did not rule Thursday on most of the issues still pending about what evidence will be shown to a panel of officers when the trial begins next month.
Osborn said the government cannot show "in life" photos of the 13 people killed in the shooting as part of its opening statement, set for Aug. 6.
She also directed the prosecution to crop out images of private areas and open eyes or mouths in the color autopsy photos, unless there is relevance to showing those images to the jury.
Hasan remained polite during the hearing, and made few objections to the government's proposed evidence. He said he agreed that the autopsy photos they present should not be excessively graphic or demeaning.
"As long as they do their best to preserve the dignity of the dead, I have no objections," he said.
In a nearly two-hour hearing Thursday, Osborn discouraged the prosecution from presenting photos and other evidence that were duplicative, irrelevant or likely to cause the jury to rule unduly out of sympathy and not the merits of the evidence.
While discussing an 8-minute crime scene video, Osborn asked why it was needed to augment diagrams and photos.
"It is not unfairly prejudicial. It is what he (Hasan) did," Col. Michael Mulligan, lead prosecutor, told the judge.
"There were 146 shell casings in the building," he said. "We have tried to be fair in our prosecution."
Government lawyers said the video, in corroboration with other evidence, is necessary to establish the identity of the victims and the timing and depth of events.
The government wants to present 124 of 1,257 autopsy photos to jurors. Of the 1,100 photos taken inside the deployment readiness processing center where the shooting began, it has asked to show 28 photos, including 10 of the deceased victims.
Hasan withdrew a motion presented by the defense last week when stand-by counsel Lt. Col. Kris Poppe argued that the government must provide a written summary of all planned testimony by victims' surviving family members.
Of the 13 people killed, the government has indicated it plans to call one relative of each of 10 of the victims, and two family members of each of the other three
Osborn directed the government to shut off a closed-circuit television feed to an anteroom where witnesses will be waiting. She said a mistrial had been declared in a case at Fort Bragg, N.C., where closed-circuit TV tainted the legal process.
She also prohibited the display of images on a large screen in the courtroom, which has 18-inch monitors throughout, without her permission.
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