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The trial of Muzzammil Hassan: Day 3

BUFFALO -- The third day of the murder trial of Muzzammil "Mo" Hassan has wrapped up in Erie County Court.

Hassan, 46, a former television executive of Bridges TV, is accused of the stabbing and beheading death of his 37-year-old wife, Aasiya Zubair Hassan.

5:40 p.m.: Defense attorney Jeremy Schwartz spoke with reporters after today's session.

He said he's still Mo Hassan's lawyer, and it hasn't been decided whether Mo Hassan plans to stay out of the courtroom for the rest of the trial.

"Nothing that happened today is something that has not happened in a case where somebody is facing this serious a charge before," Schwartz said.

Here's the entire exchange with reporters (runtime: about 4 minutes):

5:13 p.m.: Judge said day's session is over. Jurors to report back on Monday morning at 9:45 a.m., shooting for a 10 a.m. start.

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5:04 p.m.: The video shows Mo Hassan in Walmart testing out one of the knives on a cardboard box, Elizabeth McCourt tells prosecutors.

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4:57 p.m.: Prosecutors are about to play a DVD of the Walmart surveillance tape showing Mo Hassan buying the knives.

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4:53 p.m.: Prosecution offers into evidence Walmart receipt for Mo Hassan's purchase of two hunting knives just hours before the killing.

McCourt, the Walmart employee who sold Hassan the knives, said he acted calm -- like a normal customer -- when he came in to buy the knives.

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4:43 p.m.: Elizabeth McCourt, a Walmart employee, has been called to the stand. Walmart is where Mo Hassan purchased the knives prosecutors say he used in the killing.

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4:41 p.m.: The defense is back and the jury is being called back into the room.

Mo Hassan has told his attorney he will not return to the courtroom today.

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4:35 p.m.: The conference with the judge is over. The defense is apparently going back to meet with Mo Hassan, who has been taken to a room with audio and video feeds of what's happening in the courtroom. He chose to leave the courtroom after the judge ruled earlier this afternoon Hassan could not represent himself for the rest of the trial.

4:30 p.m.: The defense has returned to the courtroom. The lawyers on both sides are at the bench talking with the judge.

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4:27 p.m.: With very little fanfare, the defense has left the courtroom. Courtroom activities on hold.

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4:20 p.m.: Court is back in session.

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4:19 p.m.: There has been a short recess so the prosecution could get a laptop ready to use in its presentation.

Attorneys are waiting for court to be called back in session.

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4:09 p.m.: At the same time the check was found, a receipt was also found for the purchase of a post office box, Numan-Ali said.

The defense cross examined Numan-Ali, and he's been excused from the witness stand.

On cross examination, he said he gave a statement to Orchard Park Police that he never witnessed any physical abuse involving Mo and Aasiya Hassan.

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4:03 p.m.: Numan-Ali, who went to the University at Buffalo and attended MBA classes with Aasiya Hassan, said once the Bridges TV offices reopened, he found a bank check for $90,000 under his desk issued to Mo Hassan. It was issued Feb. 10, 2009, two days before the killings.

Prosecutor now putting into evidence still photos that appear to be from surveillance video inside Bridges TV.

The first photo showed Aasiya Hassan leaving a conference room, a room which Numan-Ali said she and Mo Hassan were in for several hours in the days after Mo Hassan was served with divorce papers.

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3:36 p.m.: Prosecution calls Mohamed Numan-Ali, who worked at Bridges TV for the Hassans.

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3:34 p.m.: After re-cross examination by the defense, Josie Sisson is allowed to step down.

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3:29 p.m.: Defense attorney Jeremy Schwartz's cross examination of Sisson is done. The prosecution is conducting redirect examination.

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3:26 p.m.: Defense attorney Jeremy Schwartz is cross-examining Josie Sisson.

Schwartz has asked Sisson about Aasiya's allergies and whether she's ever had inflammed eyes, mouth or lips because of allergies.

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3:18 p.m.: Prosecutor Paul Bonanno leading Josie Sisson through five medical records from Aasiya Hassan's visits to doctor's office.

Reports refer to various injuries occurring from incidents in which Aasiya either said she was victim of domestic violence or medical staff concluded it.

In a report from April 2008, Aasiya Hassan initially told medical staff that she fell off a bicycle. It was only later that Aasiya admitted the injuries were from a "vicious beating" from her husband, Sisson said.

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3:01 p.m.: Physician's assistant on the stand says she also treated Aasiya Hassan.

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3 p.m.: Prosecution calls Josie Sisson, a physician's assistant from Orchard Park.

Sisson says Mo Hassan was patient at practice where she works from 2000 to 2009.

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2:58 p.m.: Judge Franczyk tells jury they cannot draw any inference from Mo Hassan not being present.

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2:55 p.m.: Jury is being invited back into the courtroom, per Judge Franczyk.

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2:51 p.m.: Activities in the courtroom seem to be moving forward in a smooth, typical fashion -- a stark contrast to what was happening within the last hour.

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2:44 p.m.: Lawyers on both sides are arguing about portions of some of Aasiya Zubair Hassan's medical records which will be redacted before entered into evidence.

A portion of at least one document is a medical report that includes information describing domestic violence incidents.

Defense attorney Jeremy Schwartz is arguing portions are not specific enough to be admissible as evidence.

The jury has yet to enter the courtroom today.

***

2:40 p.m.: Before the judge ruled about representation, defense attorney Jeremy Schwartz said he thought the judge should grant Mo Hassan's request, saying it is becoming "increasingly difficult" to move foward.

Schwartz said the defense is "at a crossroads."

"It's going to continue to become more difficult and more difficult to go forward in this manner," Schwartz said.

Chief prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable argued against the judge granting the motion to allow Hassan to represent himself.

"This defendant's desire to control and manipulate this process is not compelling circumstances," she said.

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2:29 p.m.: Before he left the courtroom, Mo Hassan called his attorney, Jeremy Schwartz, a good person and a very successful lawyer.

But Hassan claimed Schwartz did not fulfill the terms of his retainer, including not meeting with him four times a week.

Hassan also disputed some points in the timeline leading up to the trial, in terms of when Schwartz was retained.

"It is ineffective counsel because on last time Mr. Schwartz visited me was December the 3rd," Hassan told the judge. "Between Dec. 3 to Jan. 4, he never came to see me."

Hassan repeated to the judge his belief that he is the only one whose life would be negatively impacted if he represents himself.

"I'm the only one who faces the consequences of this decision," the defendant said. "You have no consequences. None, whatsover. Nobody in this room does. I am taking the risk."

2:22 p.m.: Mo Hassan has left the courtroom, saying he does not want to proceed with his current attorney.

He was cuffed and taken to a room that has audio and video feeds from the courtroom.

He asked if he could be taken back to the Erie County Holding Center, but that was denied.

***

2:13 p.m.: Franczyk has rejected Hassan's motion to represent himself.

Immediately after the ruling was spoken, Mo Hassan requested the he be allowed to leave the courtoom.

The judge warned Hassan of the pitfalls of not being present at his own trial.

Hassan is speaking at length with the judge, claiming his defense attorney has been "ineffective counsel."

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2:06 p.m.: Judge Franczyk said Mo Hassan filed a motion to represent himself this morning, but he denied the motion.

The judge also said he decided he should take time to review case law, so that he could make sure he was making a reasoned and appropriate ruling.

Judge Franczyk is still outlining relevant case law.

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1:48 p.m.: Here's Staff Reporter Matt Gryta's recap of today's events so far.

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11:26 a.m.: Defense attorney Jeremy Schwartz said a legal issue arose and both the prosecution and defense have some legal research to do.

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11:22 a.m.: Lawyers, judge and defendant re-enter courtroom from private conference. Court official announces session is adjourned until 2 p.m.

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11:07 a.m.: Judge Thomas P. Franczyk asked for the defendant to be brought back, and all parties are heading into the jury room again.

About an hour ago, the judge, attorneys and Mo Hassan left the courtroom after defense attorney Jeremy Schwartz said his client would like to discuss the issue of representation.

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10:58 a.m.: The attorneys and the judge are all back in the courtroom. Mo Hassan is not.

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10:34 a.m.: Judge, attorneys and Hassan emerge from conference.

Court official says proceedings will resume at 11 a.m.

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10:22 a.m.: Judge, attorneys and Hassan still holding private conference outside of the courtroom.

The jury is still not in the courtroom.

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10:05 a.m.: Defense attorney Jeremy Schwartz has told the judge his client would like to meet to discuss the issue of representation.

The judge, Hassan and all of the attorneys have left the courtroom.

During yesterday's proceedings, Franczyk rejected a request that Hassan be allowed to cross examine some witnesses including his daughter, Sonia, and the family babysitter.

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9:59 a.m.: Judge Thomas P. Franczyk has taken the bench and attorneys for both sides are in the courtroom, but there's no sign of the jury.

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9:51 a.m.: Here's News Staff Reporter Sandra Tan's story about yesterday's testimony, which included Mo Hassan's children taking the stand.

You can also review Staff Reporter Denise Jewell Gee's live blog from Day Two and Day One of the trial.

For The News' complete coverage of the entire Hassan case, check out our topics page.

--Aaron Besecker

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