By Michael Winter, USA TODAY
A military judge today ordered that the Army psychiatrist charged in the deadly 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage must shave off his beard or have it forcibly shaved.
"I am ordering the accused to be clean-shaven for all subsequent pretrial hearings and the trial," the judge, Col. Gregory Gross, said regarding Maj. Nidal Hasan.
Hasan has said he grew the beard out of duty to Islam. The military forbid beards.
Last week he told the judge, "I am not trying to disrupt the proceedings or the court."
But in his ruling, Gross said the defense had not proven that Hasan's reason for growing the beard was sincere, the Associated Press says. Gross had already fined Hasan $6,000 this summer for violating an earlier directive to shave, saying the facial hair disrupted court proceedings.
His ruling effectively put the trial on hold, because the armed forces' court of appeals had already agreed to hear Hasan's appeal after Gross explained his rationale, the San Antonio Express-News says.
Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the November 2009 rampage at the Texas base.
Earlier, his attorneys said he had twice offered to plead guilty and "accept responsibility" earlier this year, and had tried to challenge Army rules that forbid a defendant in a death-penalty case from pleading guilty to murder, the Associated Press writes.