WASHINGTON – The judge in the case of Zacarias Moussaoui (search) gave lawyers until May 6 to propose a schedule for a penalty trial that will determine whether he lives or dies.
In a two-page order on Monday, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema (search) in Alexandria, Va., also rejected the suggestion of Moussaoui's lawyers that he is mentally incompetent to plead guilty to terror conspiracy, as he did last Friday. Brinkema had said during Moussaoui's court session that she was denying the defense attorneys' effort to stop the plea.
Moussaoui, a 36-year-old French citizen, pleaded guilty in a broad plot to kill Americans using commercial airliners as weapons.
In court, Moussaoui hinted at a possible death penalty defense. He tried to distance himself from the specific events on Sept. 11, 2001 (search), saying that nothing in the statement of facts that he signed declared he was "specifically guilty of 9-11."