Life for Moussaoui

Want Greta's blog delivered directly to your e-mail box? Click here to sign up!

I am a bit surprised by the jury's decision to spare Zacarias Moussaoui — but I was not in the courtroom to hear all the evidence, which makes a huge difference. I was surprised only because of the folklore here about juries in Virginia. Most lawyers around Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia think that the juries in Virginia are the toughest in the country — of course that does not mean they are unfair.

If you have listened to me over the years, you know that I am very respectful of jurors. They are the ones who actually hear ALL the evidence and give up their time to serve. When you actually sit in the courtroom and hear all the evidence, you understand decisions. You would probably agree with most verdicts if you did. In my experience, jurors take their jobs very, very, very seriously. I respect this jury's decision and I appreciate their service.

As an aside, I thought Moussaoui had a better chance of winning the earlier question posed to the jury which was, in essence, was he eligible for the death penalty in light of the fact that he knew about the terrorism to come, but that he did not do anything? He was in jail on 9/11 and failed to tell the FBI what he knew. So he had knowledge, but did nothing himself on 9/11. I thought the jury might think that distinction between "know" and "do" would make him eligible for life without parole but not death. But that was just a wild guess on my part. I also thought the judge might have made a mistake even posing the question to the jury and that it would ultimately be decided by an appellate court. Because he was given life, that issue will not be appealed and thus I will never know the legal answer.

Here is a question for you: Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was asked about the jury's decision to sentence Moussaoui to life without parole. He said, "If I was a juror or judge, I would have ruled differently…." Speaker Hastert was not in the courtroom for the weeks hearing the evidence, nor did he participate in the 41 hours of jury deliberations. What do you think? Do you have any problem with him commenting like this? I will post some of your answers tomorrow.

And while I am at it (asking questions), what do you think of the D.A. Mike Nifong? He was a guest on our show on Tuesday night just an hour after learning that he was elected D.A. (he was not re-elected… since he was appointed before to fill a vacancy and this was his first election.)

On the lighter side — and I think we can all use the lighter side — I have posted today a picture of our new kitten (Mike) with one of our two big dogs (Charlotte). Mike moved into the family about six weeks ago and has made himself at home. Charlotte, who is a bit embarrassed to be hanging out with cats, is very sweet to every new pet that joins the household. One of our cats — Ozzy — has been slowly warming up to Mike. For the first two weeks of Mike living in our house, we had to keep Ozzy away from him. Ozzy is now "fine" on Mike joining us, but Mike needs to stop chasing Ozzy's tail. Ozzy is not amused by this. (P.S. — maybe the Democrats and Republicans can learn from the picture of Charlotte and Mike!)

Now for some e-mails from you: I posted many about Anna Nicole Smith since I received so many about her. Note that I posted each one as I read it, so there is no agenda suggested by the ones posted. It seems that Anna Nicole has lots of support from our viewers:

E-mail No. 1

I hate to be stupid, but would you explain a "hard break" please? Is it different from any other commercial?

ANSWER: A hard break means one that we must "hit" and go to commercial at a set time or the computer will cut us off mid-sentence. We can't stretch the segment beyond the set time, it must end right at that moment. It happens twice in our shows: mid-way through the show and at the end of the show. Other segment breaks are soft — meaning we have flexibility and can talk beyond the set time the segment was to end and then we go to commercial. Then we have to take away from the next segment the extra time used in the one before. And, it is a great, not stupid question. And I hope my explanation is OK.

E-mail No. 2

I completely disagree with your position that they should settle this out of court. Anyone can see that Anna Nicole Smith is a gold digger and has already received more than she deserved. I hope she doesn't get another nickel.
That's the purpose of courts, to get justice. I don't care if it is costing the taxpayer, I've seen many less important things in our court system. I don't care how much money he had, giving $89 million, or any amount is out of the question for me. I watch your program almost every night and I've never seen you turn on someone like you did on the opposing attorney. Normally you take a neutral position on issues and seem fair to both sides. You apparently have strong feelings for this case for some reason.
Just thought you would like to know how you came across on TV.
Hugh Simpson

E-mail No. 3

I just want to set the record straight. Mike Nifong doesn't have the backing of the majority of the citizens of Durham. He wasn't even supported by 50 percent of the Democratic voters! The truth is, there is no Republican running so registered Republicans, like myself, didn't even get a vote. To say Mike Nifong has the support of the citizens is a far cry from the truth. He won the Democratic primary by a slim margin and since no Republican is running he gets a free ride. I'm forced to consider the unthinkable just to get a voice... register as a Democrat.
Please advise,
Trevor Ashton
Durham, NC

ANSWER: Why isn't a Republican running? E-mail me if you know the answer. Republican candidates could have thrown their hats in the ring....

E-mail No. 4

Hi Greta,
I am so sick of people trashing Anna Nicole. I think she deserves the part of the inheritance that the old man said he wanted her to have. After all, no matter what her motives were, she provided this old man with some attention and kindness in his last years. I sure would not have wanted to live with him but she spent her time with him and made him happy. We all know what most men fantasize about and she provided him with his fantasy in his final days. I don't care what he bought her while they were together, he MARRIED her. He was rich, the son is even richer and all because of his father's money. The son has not made this money and should be willing to share with her. The son certainly could not have provided his father with the type of companionship that Anna Nicole did nor probably did he want to. I'll bet he never even visited his father or spent time with him in the last few years. This son should thank his lucky stars that he has all this money at his disposal right now and should realize the little bit that to all us common folk is a lot, that Anna Nicole would settle for is not going to hurt him one bit. He will NEVER be able to spend all the money his father amassed in his long life. I hope Anna Nicole finally gets her due from the California courts and soon. I am totally behind her. And as an aside, she may be messed up but I have never seen her do or say anything mean about anybody. She seems very thoughtful and sweet. She basically is self-destructive and that is what we witness when she shows herself in public. Also I think she is pretty under all the makeup. Have you ever seen her without makeup? In Star magazine she has a column that is interesting and cute and she has pics of herself often without any makeup.

E-mail No. 5

I don't know if the lovely couple were in love or not, and I don't care. If she made him happy, and he gave her money and that made her happy, that's ok by me. I think he left enough money so that family was not left in poverty. To me, this is just greed by the son and all of the lawyers. The lawyers will certainly not counsel reaching agreement because that would kill the proverbial "golden goose" — in the meantime the public is being "goosed" but good. I say, "Off with their heads!"
Naurine Pyle
Beaumont, TX

E-mail No. 6

Mr. Marshall was in his right mind when he agreed to take care of Anna Nicole Smith after his death (at least no one has claimed the opposite); she was his lawful wife in a community property state (Texas). Who cares if the stepson thought Anna Nicole loved his father? Since when was that the basis of legal inheritance? As I read it, Mr. Marshall tried to get Anna Nicole to marry him for a couple of years until she finally consented. This woman is potentially worth a lot of money in her own right, anyway. She should prevail.
Susan Miller
El Paso, TX

E-mail No. 7

Greta, I like the "On the Record" cap. I really enjoyed your interview with the attorney representing the estate of J. Howard Marshall and I totally agree with you that the estate should come to an agreement with Anna Nicole. It doesn't matter what Anna Nicole's reason was for marrying Marshall, it happened and with all the billions surely an agreement could be reached. Good for you for putting those questions out there.
Springfield, MO

E-mail No. 8

You are so right about this 11-year unnecessary battle. We the taxpayers do pay the price for that crap. In my opinion, both parties should be made to pay the taxpayers back for all 11 years of court costs, etc., and settle this thing once and for all. As an aside, great job keeping your cool the other night on air amongst the chaos.
Cheryl Gillantine
Bessemer, AL

E-mail No. 9

I loved your interview with Pierce Marshall's attorney. Yes! Reasonable people should be able to reach an agreement without a three-ring circus!
Neither of these people were going to starve. What happened to taking the high road?
I'm glad Anna is getting a fair shake. Like it or not, she was Mr. Marshall's wife at the time of his death.
Unfortunately she also inherited a bratty stepson!
Dallas, TX

E-mail No. 10

I hope she wins her share. They were legally married and there is no rule that one must be in love with the person they marry. The old man had an appetite for young, sexy women before Smith, didn't he? I bet she earned every penny!
Nancy Moody
Point, TX

E-mail No. 11

Dear Greta,
You go, Greta for that sassy interview with Marshall's lawyer. Taxpayer's money indeed! Anna Nicole and Marshall BOTH have enough money to settle this obscene case, and then give a ton to the battered women's shelter.
I like it when you tell it like it is! You put it in perspective, and left that lawyer with his tongue hanging out!
Patricia (Pat) Dumas
Fair Haven, NJ

E-mail No. 12

I just have to throw my two cents in about this. I agree with you, it's gone on way too long and at a ridiculous cost to the system. I have to put most of the blame on the son. I don't think anyone has the right to criticize Anna Nicole... this man had a history of "keeping" women for years before her. If she happened to be the one to make him happy in his last years, well good for her. And if he promised her money, then she should get some. Surely the son won't miss a few million! I think he's just being stubborn (& probably a tad jealous!)
Manteca, CA

E-mail No. 13

I was appalled at your comments during your interview with Anna Nicole Smith's stepson's attorney — Ms. Smith is a gold digger who should get NOTHING from the estate and I hope her stepson fights the case to the bitter end. How dare you say he should not use our court system to get justice and $89 million is certainly not chump change. I am surprised you said that.
Marilyn Barrio
Healdsburg, CA

E-mail No. 14

I find it laughable that some of your viewers call Anna Nicole Smith a gold digger. And what do they think that dirty old man married her for — brains? Give me a break: that old man got what he wanted. Now she should get hers.
Elizabeth Ennis

E-mail No. 15

I was reading the blog today and I have simply had enough of Anna Nicole Smith. That woman has enough money as it is. She was married to the old man for what, 10 minutes? She needs to give it up. After all of her endorsements and publicity and television shows, she has enough money to set herself up for life — if she has managed it correctly. The greed in this country is almost unbearable at times.

That money should go to the family. Not some obnoxious gold digger who most likely only married the old man for the money in the first place. I have NO sympathy for her, and I don't feel that the American public should have to finance her vendetta any longer. I have said my piece.
Deanna McLean

E-mail No. 16

Wonderfully cool of you to tout the taxpayers in this Anna Nichole Smith case. I may not be fond of her (celebrity) but I got to hand to her for being able to take care of herself.
Charles Hoffmann
San Antonio, TX

E-mail No. 17

As far as Anna Nicole Smith goes: Everyone talks about her being a gold digger. J. Howard Marshall was the dirty old man going after her! He met her because he was frequenting the strip joint she worked at-- he came to her, not the other way around and he was the one who proposed. I saw a photo of her giving him a huge kiss on the lips (UGH!). She deserves half a billion for that alone! The old man got what he wanted, now it's her turn to get what she wants! Fair is fair.

E-mail No. 18

Hey Greta,
I wanted to weigh in on the Anna Nicole thing. After 11 years, obviously a settlement is impossible. It is my belief that Anna Nicole is entitled to a large portion of her late husband's estate. Whether she loved him or not is a non-issue. She married him, and he married her. Due to the fact that she's still a widow and has never remarried, I don't understand why she can't lay more of a claim to the estate? Wouldn't she be considered one of his heirs? Does her former stepson really want the entire $1 billion?
Needless to say, I am cheering for Anna Nicole in this one! She should get the whole estate just for marrying someone that old!
Love the show,
Josh Steele

E-mail No. 19

I have two questions:
1) Why is Mr. Grimm not listed with Martindale-Hubble?
2) Does Mr. Grimm "Moon Light" for the Food Network as Alton Brown? (I’m kidding, but by appearance they could be cousins, even though Alton would be the older and balding cousin; however they do have similar "on camera" attributes… all good of course!)
Kindest Regards,
Carl K. Kirkpatrick
Longboat Key, FL

E-mail No. 20

This whole Moussaoui case is a total catch 22: If he serves life in prison, he still lives; if he would have gotten the death penalty, he dies a martyr. I just hope that the families of the 9/11 victims don't take it as a slap in the face.
Thanks for the good reporting!
Cheryl Gillantine
Bessemer, AL

E-mail No. 21

My feeling is that Moussaoui got the premium sentence! He will spend the remainder of his life staring out of a window in a high security prison, day after day, after day. He will not, as he believes, go to Allah any time soon. There is no punishment in dying immediately. Let him suffer for years and years.
Kelli Lewis
Moses Lake, WA

E-mail No. 22

Ms. Van Susteren,
It was really insulting of you to assert one of Moussaoui's lawyers felt empathy for the victims of 9/11. I'll bet you $1,000 he had no close friends die from the attacks, nor any family members. Otherwise, there would have been a conflict of interest. Please apologize to the victim's families for your thoughtlessness.
Chris Castro
Derby, KS

ANSWER: You may not believe this, but defense lawyers don't always choose to do cases. In this case, the lawyers HAD to do the case since they are public defenders and the judges have a right to appoint the cases to them. It does not mean the lawyers don't feel great empathy for the victims and their families. You don't have to have a close friend who died to feel empathy. 9/11 is burned in all our memories.

Incidentally, Bernie Grimm, a defense attorney, lost his best friend in the World Trade Center. Bernie has been acting as a surrogate father to his friend's son who is now in college here in Washington, D.C. So, maybe you should hold your fire and understand that the Constitution DEMANDS that defendants, no matter how terrible the crime, have lawyers. If an accused can't afford one, the court will appoint one — and the court's first call is the Public Defender Service.

E-mail No. 23

Dear Greta,
I would hope people would NOT allow this sick person's inflammatory statements to affect them. Let's face it, if he had received the death penalty, he would also be saying he "won" and would be joining his evil cohorts in the land of 70 virgins! They are delusional and not even worth listening to! I agree with the jury's verdict in that he will have to suffer in prison; however, let's pray he never escapes.
By the way, you have interested me in taking the family to see "Akeelah and the Bee"! My son is the same age as she and would enjoy it too.
Have a great night,

E-mail No. 24

I agree with Jim Hammer, life in prison, never to get out, kept isolated, is the best punishment he can have. He will soon realize it as he realizes he can no longer be part of the evil regime to attack America, and will sit in isolation forever. He will either go mad and/or try to commit suicide. It is definitely fitting for this monster. This is what should have happen to Timothy McVeigh as well.
Seattle, WA

E-mail No. 25

I believe this jury was smarter than the average bear! I was hoping the jury was going to choose life. In reality, they chose life, which for him in prison means death. Death would have been life for him in prison, or at least 20-25 yrs. worth, with the way our verdicts take to be carried out. I would have voted the same. I would hope we will be seeing another Dalmer [sic] result, as the men in prison may have made mistakes, but I bet we have a lot of patriot prisoners. They are smarter than the average Moussaoui!

Send your thoughts and comments to:

Watch "On the Record" weeknights at 10 p.m. ET