Published April 10, 2006
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Jurors who will decide the fate of Al Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui are in for more heartbreaking testimony from family members of those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
When Moussaoui's death-penalty trial resumes Monday, prosecutors planned to continue to present victim-impact testimony from those personally affected by 9/11. They have said about 45 such witnesses will testify -- compared, they noted -- with the nearly 3,000 people who died that day.
The jury already has heard about a half-dozen painful accounts of the human toll exacted in the airborne attacks. They included a New York City firefighter whose friend and mentor was killed when he was struck by the body of a person who jumped from one of World Trade Center towers to avoid being burned alive and the suicide note of a woman who lost her husband when his plane crashed into the towers.
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.
Even though he was in jail in Minnesota at the time of the attacks, the jury ruled that lies told by Moussaoui to federal agents a month before the attacks kept them from identifying and stopping some of the hijackers.
Now they must decide whether Moussaoui deserves execution or life in prison.
Defense lawyers hope the jury will spare Moussaoui's life because of his limited role in the attacks, evidence of mental illness and because they say his execution would only fuel his dream of martyrdom.