Jury Selection Hits Snags in Hassan Trial

January 13, 2011 Updated Jan 13, 2011 at 9:09 AM EDT

January 13, 2011 Updated Jan 13, 2011 at 9:09 AM EDT

Buffalo, NY

Muzzammil Hassan will stand trial for the February 2009 beheading of his wife Aasiya Hassan, but the question is when?

"It is taking much longer than the typical jury process and for a lot of the reasons that we expected," said Jeremy Schwartz, Hassan's defense attorney.

Hassan admitted to stabbing his wife then decapitating her at Bridges TV,a Muslim-American television station they owned in Orchard Park. The story made national headlines. Since the jury selection process began, the defense and prosecution has dismissed one person after the other. Earlier this week 100 people were interviewed with only seven making the cut - five men and two women. Wednesday, another 60 interviewed, all of them were sent home.

"There have been many people that have candidly admitted they formed opinions based on media coverage and if that continues for much longer we will have to request a change of venue," said Schwartz.

Nadia Sharam is a local attorney and author. She was a frequent guest featured on Hassan's television network. After Aasiya's murder, she began researching so-called honor killings. Sharam says many islamic countries have laws that protect men who kill their daughters, wives or female relatives, under a broad umbrella, all the woman has to do is something the man feels is inappropriate.

"What she did does fit into those actions which a woman should not do, you know she put restraining order against her husband and she asked for divorce? How dare you," said Sharam.

As for whether Hassan can get a fair trial in Erie County,"There's no bright line rule as to when you have to stop the process as far as length or number of people. It is on a case by case basis," said Sharam.

The defense or prosecution can file a motion requesting to change the venue. The request would be decided on by an appellate court judge in Rochester.
For now, both sides will continue the jury selection process Thursday morning interviewing about thirty remaining potential jurors out of the 100 brought in Wednesday.