The standby lawyer for the army psychiatrist accused of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting has told a military judge that Major Nidal Malik Hasan appears intent on receiving a death sentence.

Lieutenant Colonel Kris Poppe said on Wednesday at Hasan's trial that he is willing to step in and defend Hasan, who is representing himself at his trial and has attorneys on standby if needed. But if Hasan continues to work toward being executed, Poppe asked that his responsibilities as co-counsel be minimised.

It is "clear his goal is to remove impediments or obstacles to the death penalty and is working toward a death penalty," Poppe said.

Hasan then told the judge he objected to Poppe's description, saying it was "a twist of the facts".

The court-martial judge called a recess for the remainder of Wednesday to consider a request by Hasan's standby defence team to reduce its role.

On Tuesday, he told the court that the evidence presented during the trial would "clearly show" he was the shooter.

I was on the wrong side but I switched sides.

Nidal Hasan

Death row

Hasan told jurors that he opened fire, killing 13 soldiers and wounding 32 others, just days before he was to be deployed to Afghanistan.

He spoke of his conversion to "jihad" or Muslim holy war, against the United States.

"I was on the wrong side but I switched sides," said Hasan, who is confined to a wheelchair. He is paralysed from the waist down after being shot by military police during the rampage at Fort Hood, Texas on November 5, 2009. 

The shootings were the worst non-combat attack at a US military base in history. If convicted, Hasan could be sent to death row in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and become the first American soldier executed by the US military since 1961. 

He faces 13 charges of premeditated murder and 32 charges of attempted premeditated murder. The dead were 12 active duty soldiers and a retired chief warrant officer who worked as a civilian employee at the base.

The military judge for the court-martial, Colonel Tara Osborn, has rejected Hasan's offer to plead guilty in return for being spared the death penalty based on the military's policy against allowing such pleas in capital cases.

Source: Agencies