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Thread: Moussaoui Wins 9/11 Evidence Appeal

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2005

    Moussaoui Wins 9/11 Evidence Appeal

    Moussaoui wins 9/11 evidence appeal
    A federal judge ruled that specific evidence about the Sept. 11 attacks is not relevant to whether Moussaoui qualifies for the death penalty, setting the stage for a perhaps unpredictable trial.

    Greg Gordon, Star Tribune
    November 15, 2005 at 7:45 PM

    WASHINGTON - A federal judge has barred prosecutors from presenting detailed evidence about the Sept. 11 attacks during Zacarias Moussaoui's upcoming penalty trial until a jury decides whether the Al-Qaida conspirator is eligible for a death sentence.

    In rulings issued Monday and made public Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema of Alexandria, Va., also delayed jury selection for another month, until Feb. 6, in the only U.S. criminal trial stemming from the FBI's massive investigation into the suicide hijackings.

    Brinkema handed a victory to defense lawyers in ordering a two-step process for the penalty phase of the case. They had argued that it would be prejudicial to introduce such evidence as videotape of victims leaping from the burning World Trade Center towers until Moussaoui's eligibility for capital punishment has been addressed.

    Prosecutors had contended that it would be "a particularly bad idea" to decide whether Moussaoui qualifies for a death sentence at a point when "the jury will know next to nothing about him, much less the nature of his crimes or his role in those crimes." They had sought to introduce the testimony of victims' families about those they lost before the jury decides whether Moussaoui committed a capital offense.

    Brinkema ruled that "victim testimony and specific evidence concerning the details of the events of September 11 are not relevant to the first phase" of the trial.

    Her decision sets the stage for a dramatic, perhaps unpredictable, trial focused on whether Moussaoui's alleged lies to federal agents, after his arrest in the Twin Cities on Aug. 16, 2001, prevented the government from thwarting the Sept. 11 terror plot. Defense lawyers plan to argue that U.S. intelligence agencies knew more than Moussaoui about the scheme.

    Moussaoui, who has been estranged from his lawyers and whose mental state has been a subject of legal disputes, has indicated he wants to exercise his constitutional right to testify, a source familiar with the case said.

    Moussaoui, a 37-year-old Frenchman of Moroccan descent who has been jailed in isolation for more than four years, was arrested while learning to fly a jumbo jet at a Twin Cities flight school.

    He pleaded guilty last April to six conspiracy counts -- four potentially carrying the death penalty, admitting that he joined an Al-Qaida plot to seize U.S. jetliners and ram them into buildings. But he denied knowing anything about the Sept. 11 plot and has for more than two years demanded access to captive Al-Qaida leaders who will back him up. He vowed to fight "inch by inch" the Justice Department's push for his execution.

    Moussaoui also signed a statement of facts acknowledging that after his arrest he "lied to federal agents to allow his al-Qaida 'brothers' to go forward with the operation to fly planes into American buildings."

    During a recent hearing, prosecutors acknowledged that their push for the death penalty hinges on Moussaoui's evasive responses when twice interviewed by an FBI agent and a federal immigration agent in the Twin Cities. To sentence a defendant to death under federal capital punishment laws, a jury must find that he took some act that contributed to someone's death.

    Defense lawyers plan to argue that even if Moussaoui had divulged whatever he knew about the broad Al-Qaida hijacking plot, the Sept. 11 attacks would have succeeded.

    It is common in death penalty cases for defense lawyers to introduce evidence of mental illness as a mitigating factor. Moussaoui's defense lawyers have argued since early in the case that he is mentally ill and suggested before he pleaded guilty last spring that he lacked the competency to do so.

    In a ruling Monday, Brinkema gave defense lawyers until Nov. 30 to state whether they plan to submit mental health evidence as a mitigating factor. Prosecutors have argued that if the defense seeks to raise the issue, a government expert must be allowed to evaluate him.

    Greg Gordon is a correspondent in the Star Tribune Washington Bureau.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  2. #2
    somebigguy Guest
    I like his defense plan, stating that any evidence regarding the attacks would have been ignored by authorities anyway, so he can't really be held responsible for the attacks.

  3. #3
    rayrayjones Guest
    guess we'll never see the pentagon videos as along as they continue to delay this trial.

    pretty convienent for them.

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