Al-Qaida terrorist and would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid will not be testifying at the death-penalty trial of Zacarias Moussaoui.
U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema on Friday vacated the order she had previously issued requiring Reid to testify for the defense at Moussaoui's trial.
Brinkema gave no substantive explanation for her order. She cited a letter written Friday by Moussaoui's court-appointed lawyers and a motion filed by the federal public defenders in Boston who represented Reid. Both the letter and the motion by Reid's lawyers are sealed, though.
Reid is serving a life sentence in Colorado after a failed try to blow up an American Airlines flight in 2001.
Moussaoui testified last month at his death-penalty trial that he and Reid were going to hijack a fifth plane on Sept. 11, 2001, and fly it into the White House.
That testimony came after years of denying any specific role in 9/11. Moussaoui had previously said he was part of a separate al-Qaida plot, and written testimony from Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed asserting that Moussaoui was never part of the 9/11 plans but was instead to be in a second wave of attacks.
Defense lawyers attack credibility
Moussaoui's defense lawyers have suggested Moussaoui fabricated his story about Reid and their role in the 9/11 plot in an effort to sabotage his own defense and achieve martyrdom through execution. The lawyers also indicate that Moussaoui is trying to inflate his role in history.
Defense lawyers had hoped that if Reid would disavow any knowledge of Moussaoui's claim, thus bolstering their argument that Moussaoui was lying when he claimed he was to have been one of the 9/11 pilots.
On Thursday, though, Moussaoui took the stand for a second time and elaborated that Reid had was on a "need-to-know basis" and had not yet been informed of al-Qaida's plans for Sept. 11. Thus any denial by Reid may have been a moot point in light of Moussaoui's most recent testimony.
‘Buddy’ from the training camps
Moussaoui, in his testimony Thursday, referred to Reid as his "buddy" from the al-Qaida training camps in Afghanistan and said the two had tried to exchange letters while in prison.
Although plans to have Reid take the witness stand have been abandoned, it is possible that lawyers will craft a written statement or stipulation that will contain some of what Reid would have said.
Calls to Reid's lawyers in Boston were not immediately returned Friday.
Moussaoui is the only person charged in this country in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks. The jury deciding his fate has already declared him eligible for the death penalty by determining that his actions caused at least one death on 9/11.
Now they must decide whether Moussaoui deserves execution or life in prison.
The trial resumes Monday and Brinkema said the jury may begin deliberations early next week.