BREAKING NEWS ~ Moussaoui eligible for death penalty News
BREAKING NEWS ~ Moussaoui eligible for death penalty

[JURIST] A jury has found Zacarias Moussaoui [JURIST news archive] eligible for the death penalty for his role in the Sept. 11 terror attacks [JURIST news archive]. Moussaoui pleaded guilty [JURIST report] last year to six conspiracy charges [indictment], admitting involvement with al Qaeda, but said at the time that he had no role in the Sept. 11 plot. During his sentencing trial [case docket], Moussaoui offered conflicting testimony [JURIST report] about whether he had been meant to participate in the attacks. His defense lawyers later suggested that Moussaoui was trying to get the death penalty in order to achieve "martyrdom."

Now that the jury has determined that Moussaoui is eligible for execution, a second phase of the sentencing trial will begin with testimony from Sept. 11 victims and their families so that the jury may determine whether the death penalty should be imposed in this case.

5:47 PM ET – In reaching their verdict, the jury decided unanimously that at least one person died on Sept. 11 as a direct result of Moussaoui's actions, determining that he lied to the FBI when he was arrested in August 2001 while "contemplating the life of a person would be taken or intending that lethal force would be used." The jury was presented with four questions [verdict form, PDF] on three counts – conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries, conspiracy to destroy aircraft, and conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction – and answered all questions affirmatively. The second phase of the trial will begin Thursday, and Moussaoui's court-appointed lawyers have indicated that they will present evidence that Moussaoui suffers from schizophrenia. AP has more.