AUSTIN (KXAN/AP) - Nearly three years after the shooting rampage at Fort Hood that left 13 dead and more than two dozen wounded, and now the military trial remains on hold over the suspect's refusal to shave the beard he says represents his Muslim faith.
The delay imposed by an appeals court frustrates some of the victims' loved ones. But the head of the Austin-based Texas Civil Rights Project predicts that the Army will ultimately relent in its prohibition of Maj. Nidal Hasan's facial hair.
"You now see, for example, military (members) in offices wearing yamulke or a nice beard or if you're Sikh, a turban," attorney Jim Harrington said the day after an appeals court delayed the trial. "But you won't see it if you're out in the field. But there has to be reasonable accommodation."
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Hasan, an American-born Muslim who is facing either the death penalty or life in prison without parole, has been held in contempt of the military court for his steadfast refusal to shave. And he has been banned from attending the proceedings as long as his beard remains.
The appeals court stepped in after the court was planning to have him forcibly shaved before the trial was to begin next week.
The delay is frustrating for many involved in the case, although some victims' relatives say they have grown accustomed to waiting for the trial to start. It's been almost three years since the shooting rampage left 13 dead and more than two dozen wounded on the Texas Army post.
"I stopped holding my breath a long time ago as far as expecting to get any closure regarding the trial," said Leila Hunt Willingham, whose brother Jason Dean " J.D." Hunt was among those killed Nov. 5, 2009.
Prosecutors have said Hasan grew the beard so trial witnesses would have a hard time identifying him. They have said they doubt religion is his motive, noting he was clean-shaven at the time of the shootings.
This report contains material from The Associated Press.
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