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Zacarias Moussaoui Death Penalty Trial Resumes

I guess the Judge Brinkema blinked. Maybe she realized that she wasn't up to the backlash of letting this guy avoid the death penalty over an absurd technicality. No matter how much she wants him to thrive and prosper.

From the DNC television outlet, CNN:

Moussaoui trial resumes after tumultous week

FBI agent returns to stand to testify about arrest, interrogation

From Phil Hirschkorn

Monday, March 20, 2006

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (CNN) — The first U.S. trial stemming from the September 11, 2001, attacks resumed Monday where it left off, with an FBI agent who arrested and interrogated Zacarias Moussaoui back on the stand.

Defense attorneys are scheduled to cross-examine Harry Samit about his handling of Moussaoui on August 16 and 17, 2001, when the French native of Moroccan descent was being held for an immigration violation.

During 3 1/2 hours of talks behind bars, Moussaoui told Samit he was in flight school for fun and intended to visit New York as a tourist, the agent told the jury March 9.

Prosecutors contend that Moussaoui contributed to 3,000 murders on September 11 by lying to Samit to cover up al Qaeda's conspiracy to hijack and crash planes into prominent buildings. They are seeking the death penalty.

Moussaoui, 37, pleaded guilty to terrorism conspiracy charges last year, so his punishment is the only question before the jury in the trial that began March 6.

If jurors don't vote unanimously to execute Moussaoui, then he will be sentenced to life in prison.

There's no word yet on when the court might hear from Carla Martin, a government lawyer who turned the sentencing trial upside down. (Who is Carla Martin and did she harm case? — 1:52)

Moussaoui's attorneys and prosecutors want Martin to explain her actions to the court.

Martin, a Transportation Security Administration lawyer, sent a series of e-mails disclosing trial transcripts to aviation security witnesses who were scheduled to testify.

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema found that Martin violated her order instructing witnesses to avoid following court proceedings or discussing them with each other until they had testified.

After a hearing outside the jury's presence, Brinkema called in a half-dozen witnesses to see how much they may have been "coached."

Most witnesses said Martin's communications had no impact, but Brinkema struck them all as tainted, and initially barred any mention of aviation security from the trial.

On Friday, following prosecutor pleas to reconsider, Brinkema settled on a compromise, allowing the government to call "untainted" aviation witnesses and present evidence not handled by Martin.

Prosecutors were expected to call the replacement witnesses by the end of the week.

Brinkema said that prosecutors may ask the witnesses to describe "what the United States government 'could' have done to prevent the attacks, had the defendant disclosed in August 2001 the facts that he admitted in pleading guilty."

In their opening statement, prosecutors contended that if Moussaoui had alerted law enforcement, FBI detective work could have identified 11 of the 19 hijackers, and the Federal Aviation Administration could have stopped some of them at airport gates by banning short knives or adding conspirators' names to a "no-fly" list.

The witnesses may not testify "as to what the United States government 'would' have done with this information, as such testimony would be unduly speculative and misleading to the jury," Brinkema said.

In a Friday closed-door teleconference restoring some aviation security witnesses and evidence, Brinkema told attorneys that "I agree it would be unfortunate if this case could not go forward to some final resolution," according to a court transcript.

Martin could appear Monday afternoon after the trial's main business concludes for the day and the jury is sent home. But her attorney, Roscoe Howard, has asked the court for more time.

She could be held in criminal or civil contempt or face witness-tampering charges. Howard said last week that his client had been "viciously vilified" by the prosecution and media pundits.


How horrible!

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, March 20th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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