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Moussaoui jury weighs death penalty option

[JURIST] The jury in the Zacarias Moussaoui [JURIST news archive] sentencing trial will resume deliberations Thursday to decide whether the al Qaeda conspirator should receive the death penalty for his role in the Sept. 11 attacks [JURIST news archive]. The case went to the jury late Wednesday afternoon and the jury must now decide whether Moussaoui was responsible for any deaths in the terror attacks and therefore eligible for the death penalty. If the jury reaches a unanimous decision that Moussaoui is eligible for execution, the sentencing trial will then move to a second phase to hear testimony from Sept. 11 victims and their families to determine whether the death penalty should be imposed in this case.

During closing arguments Wednesday, the prosecution stressed that had Moussaoui not lied to the FBI after he was arrested in August 2001, investigators would have been able to uncover the Sept. 11 plot and stop the attacks. Moussaoui's defense attorneys countered that there is no guarantee that the FBI "would have run a flawless investigation" and noted that FBI warnings that Moussaoui was a dangerous terrorist had been ignored. Moussaoui, who pleaded guilty [JURIST report] to six conspiracy charges [indictment] last year, took the stand in his own defense [JURIST report] earlier this week, testifying that he and "shoe bomber" Richard Reid [BBC profile] were meant to hijack a fifth airplane and fly it into the White House as part of the Sept. 11 attacks. That testimony, however, conflicted [JURIST report] with statements from Khalid Shaikh Mohammed [Wikipedia profile], the alleged mastermind behind the terror attacks. AP has more.

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