FORT HOOD, Texas - The Army psychiatrist charged in the deadly Fort Hood shooting rampage apparently will be allowed to keep his beard during his military trial, after a new judge indicated Tuesday that she won't force him to shave.
The previous judge's order requiring Maj. Nidal Hasan to be clean-shaven or be forcibly shaved before his trial had tied up the case for more than three months, but an appeals court ousted that judge earlier this month.
The new judge told Hasan during a hearing Tuesday that the beard, now thicker than when he first appeared in court with it in June, violates Army regulations. The judge, Col. Tara Osborn, said that she won't hold it against him but that military jurors might.
Hasan answered "yes, ma'am" when Osborn asked if he grew the beard voluntarily. In a previous court hearing, he said he grew the beard because his Muslim faith requires it and not as a show of disrespect. Osborn asked defense attorneys to draft jury instructions about the issue. Jurors likely will be told not to consider Hasan's appearance when deciding on a verdict.
Hasan, 42, an American-born Muslim, faces the death penalty or life in military prison without parole if convicted in the 2009 rampage that killed 13 and wounded more than two dozen on the Texas Army post.
A trial date has not been set.