Embassy Jury Instructed on Deadlock

If the jury in the embassy bombing case does not unanimously agree on a death penalty, the defendant will automatically get life in prison, the judge reminded jurors Tuesday. 


The comment from U.S. District Judge Leonard B. Sand came as the anonymous jury entered its fifth day of deliberations in the penalty phase of the case against Mohamed Rashed Daoud Al-'Owhali. On Monday, the jurors had sent Sand a note asking what to do if they deadlock over the sentence.

If the jury remains deadlocked, Sand has instructed jurors to write a note at the bottom of the verdict form saying they don't agree on the death penalty and they understand that as a result, Al-'Owhali will be sentenced to life without the possibility of release.

Al-'Owhali is among four men convicted of conspiring to bomb two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998. One other defendant, Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, also could face the death penalty. His penalty hearing is scheduled to follow Al-'Owhali's.

Also Tuesday, Mohamed's defense attorney filed papers demanding the judge stop the proceeding. The attorney, David Ruhnke, cited a ruling by a court in South Africa — where Mohamed was arrested — saying he should not have been turned over to U.S. authorities without assurances he would be spared the death penalty.

Al'Owhali, 24, of Saudi Arabia, rode in the truck used in the Aug. 7, 1998, bombing of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, before leaping out and hurling stun grenades at guards.

He then ran for his life as the bomb-hauling truck exploded outside the embassy, killing 213 people and injuring thousands more.

Another 11 people were killed in a simultaneous bombing in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Mohamed, 27, of Tanzania, helped build the bomb used there.

The two other men convicted in the case, Wadih El-Hage, 40, of Arlington, Texas, and Mohamed Sadeek Odeh, 36, of Jordan, face life in prison when they are sentenced.