Video: Jury weighs death for 9/11 plotter

updated 4/25/2006 4:26:08 PM ET 2006-04-25T20:26:08

Jurors ended a second day of deliberation in the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui. Earlier, they had asked for but were denied a dictionary Tuesday for use during their deliberations on whether the Sept. 11 conspirator should receive a death sentence or life in prison.

Before their lunch break, the jurors — and Moussaoui — filed into the courtroom to hear the response of Judge Leonie Brinkema to the request to have a dictionary in the jury room.

Brinkema told them that sending a dictionary in would be like adding additional evidence in the case, but she invited them to come back if they had questions about specific definitions. And she warned them against doing their own research, including looking up definitions.

After she and the jury left, Moussaoui said, “747 fly to London” — an apparent reference to his dream that President Bush will release him and he will fly to London.

The jury deliberated for three hours Monday after hearing closing arguments in the six-week trial.

Prosecutors told jurors that the decision to sentence Moussaoui to death ought to be relatively easy given the horror inflicted on 9/11 and Moussaoui’s glee — evident throughout the trial — at the destruction he helped wreak. Nearly 3,000 people died in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

“If not this case, then when is a death sentence appropriate?” prosecutor David Novak said. “How many people have to die?”

Moussaoui’s court-appointed defense lawyers, who have been at odds with their client for years, said a death sentence would be giving Moussaoui exactly what he wants — an execution at the hands of his enemies and martyrdom.

Moussaoui has expressed wish to be executed
Moussaoui has said at various times that he believes being executed by the Americans may grant him a path to paradise in the afterlife.

Defense lawyer Gerald Zerkin said Moussaoui has twice testified in his own defense and obviously done harm to his own case, first by claiming a direct role in 9/11 after years of denials and then by mocking the testimony of 9/11 victims and their families who tearfully told of their suffering.

Moussaoui’s transparent contempt for his victims “is proof that he wants you to sentence him to death,” Zerkin told the jury. “He is baiting you into it. He came to America to die in jihad and you are his last chance.”

The jury has only two choices: death or life in prison. Brinkema instructed jurors to balance all the factors that argue for death or life in making their decision. If the jury cannot reach a unanimous decision, Brinkema will automatically sentence him to life.

Before boarding a flight from Paris to the Washington area Tuesday to be with her son, Moussaoui’s mother, Aicha El Wafi, told AP Television News, “My life is hell.”

“This has been going on for four years, but now my life is hell. It’s hell and that’s all,” she said. “I feel too much pain to speak.” She has complained that her son was being made a scapegoat for the Sept. 11 attacks.

Moussaoui is the only person in this country charged in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The jury earlier found him eligible for execution by determining that his actions caused at least one death that day. Although Moussaoui was in jail on Sept. 11, the jury ruled that lies he told federal agents when he was arrested in August 2001 on immigration violations allowed the plot to go forward.

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