Published May 01, 2006
| Associated Press
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Deliberations in the death penalty trial of Zacarias Moussaoui resumed for a second week Monday as jurors work their way through a 42-page verdict form that will guide their decision on whether the Sept. 11 conspirator should receive life or death.
The jury began meeting a week ago, and continued for nearly 22 hours over four days. The jury did not deliberate Thursday because a juror called in sick.
So far, the jury has asked only one question, requesting a dictionary. U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema denied the request, saying it would be equivalent to placing extraneous evidence in the jury room. She also warned jurors against conducting their own research, including looking up words.
Nevertheless, deliberations were halted briefly Friday after one of the jurors said he had looked up the definition of "aggravating" in Webster's dictionary. The juror was questioned in a closed hearing about his conduct, but Brinkema said she was satisfied that no real harm resulted.
She did warn the jury as a whole in an open hearing about conducting independent research. She also provided a basic legal definition of "aggravating factors" and a dictionary definition of "aggravating."
The verdict form requires the jury to balance aggravating factors — those that support the death penalty, such as acting with premeditation — against mitigating factors that support a life sentence, such as evidence of mental illness.
The 37-year-old Frenchman is the only person in the U.S. charged in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. He pleaded guilty in April 2005.
This jury previously found Moussaoui eligible for execution after more than 16 hours of deliberations. Although he was in jail on immigration violations on Sept. 11, the jury ruled that lies he told federal agents the month before the attacks kept them from identifying and stopping some of the hijackers.