WASHINGTON – A single holdout kept the jury from handing a death sentence to Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged in this country in the 9/11 attacks.
But that juror never explained his vote, said the foreman of the jury that sentenced the confessed Al Qaeda conspirator to life in prison last week.
The foreman, a math teacher in Northern Virginia, told The Washington Post that jurors voted three times — 11-1, 10-2 and 10-2 — in favor of the death penalty on the three terrorism charges that each qualified Moussaoui for execution.
On April 26, the third day of deliberations, the jury's frustrations reached a critical point because of several 11-1 votes on one charge. But no one could figure out who was casting the dissenting vote, the foreman said, because that person didn't identify himself during any discussion — and each of the votes were done using anonymous ballots.
"But there was no yelling," she said in an interview for the Post's Friday editions. "It was as if a heavy cloud of doom had fallen over the deliberation room, and many of us realized that all our beliefs and our conclusions were being vetoed by one person. ... We tried to discuss the pros and cons. But I would have to say that most of the arguments we heard around the deliberation table were" in favor of the death penalty.
The foreman, who was not identified by the Post, said she voted for the death penalty because she believed the government proved its case. She was the second juror to be interviewed by the Post since the trial ended. The first juror said he voted for life in prison because he thought that Moussaoui, 37, had only a marginal role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema had ordered the identities of the jurors withheld for security reasons. The Post said the foreman contacted the newspaper and was interviewed on the condition of anonymity by a reporter who recognized her from the trial.
After the jury of nine men and three women rejected the government's appeal for the death penalty for Moussaoui, Brinkema gave him six life sentences, to run as two consecutive life terms in the federal supermax prison at Florence, Colo.