Moussaoui Jurors Must Handle 42-Page Verdict Form


A “special veredict form,” 42 pages long and filled with complex questions, could explain why jurors in the death penalty trial of Zacarias Moussaoui completed their second full day of deliberations yesterday with no sign of when they will reach a verdict, the Washington Post reports. The form explores issues such as whether Moussaoui is responsible for all of the nearly 3,000 deaths Sept. 11, 2001, and whether executing him would make him a martyr. Jurors in every federal death case go through a similar exercise, weighing the “aggravating factors” submitted by prosecutors against “mitigating factors” proposed by the defense. Not a word was heard yesterday from the jury, which has deliberated for 16 hours. On Tuesday, the nine men and three women asked the judge if they could have a dictionary. U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema declined, saying jurors can consider only the evidence heard in court.

Moussaoui, 37, pleaded guilty last year to conspiring with al-Qaeda and is the only person convicted in the United States on charges stemming from the 2001 attacks. After deliberating for 17 hours, the same jury found Moussaoui eligible for the death penalty, because his lies to the FBI when he was arrested in August 2001 allowed the Sept. 11 plot to go forward. If jurors do not agree unanimously that Moussaoui should be put to death, Brinkema will sentence him to life in prison with no chance of parole.


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