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The Situation Room
Verdict In The Sentencing Trial Of Zacarias Moussaoui;
Aired May 03, 2006 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much Kyra.
And to our viewers in the United States and around the world, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM, where new pictures and information are arriving all the time. Standing by CNN reporters across the United States and around the world to bring you today's top stories.
Happening now, we're following breaking news, a verdict in the sentencing trial of Zacarias Moussaoui. Will the al Qaeda conspirator get the death penalty? It's 4:00 p.m. in Alexandria, Virginia, where the verdict will be read only moments from now. The families of 9/11 victims are anxiously waiting for the verdict. We'll get their reaction once we find out whether the only person charged in the 9/11 attacks will live or die.
And later, Laura Bush gives her read on hurricane recovery. It's 3:00 p.m. in Mississippi, where the first lady is helping school libraries rebuild. And she's opening up to our own John King about some hot issues and her husband's political problems.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We want to welcome our international viewers who are joining us as well.
We begin with that breaking news, the verdict in the penalty trial of al Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui. Will he be sentenced to death for his connection to the deadliest terror attack in U.S. history? We're about a half hour away, less, right now, from the reading of that verdict. We are going to bring it to you live right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
First, though let's get all the details, all the background. Our homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve, who has been covering this trial from day one joining us in Washington -- Jeanne.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're expecting the verdict in about a half hour. It will be read simultaneously by the judge in the courtroom and a spokesman for the court outside to the cameras. So we should know in short order, whether in fact Zacarias Moussaoui will be sentenced to death or whether he will spend the rest of his life in prison.
This jury has deliberated for about seven days, 41 hours in total, much longer than was expected for this kind of a case. But it was a very complicated set of considerations that they had to make. They had a jury form that was 42 pages long. It went through the three counts to which Moussaoui has pleaded guilty.
And on each one of the counts they had to weigh certain mitigating and aggravating factors. Amongst the mitigating factors, the fact that his lawyers said that he suffered from mental illness, that he'd had a difficult childhood. On the aggravating side the fact that these were such heinous crimes that had been committed on 9/11.
The jurors also have a lot to consider from this trial itself. They heard some extraordinarily emotional testimony in the course of this trial from survivors and from the families of those who died on 9/11. They also saw some compelling evidence, including that cockpit voice recorder from flight 93, the flight that went down in Pennsylvania, very gripping to hear the hijackers take over in the cabin and then hear the passengers raise up in revolt.
And then of course they heard Moussaoui's own testimony, really quite extraordinary. He sat there in the courtroom and called the people who had testified, the victims and their survivors, pathetic for their testimony, said that he would attack Americans any time at any place, said that he had absolutely no remorse for 9/11, and that he would like to have seen it happened again on the 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th and so on.
And in the course of the trial his own description of his role in the plot has changed somewhat. In the first phase of the trial, he said that he was supposed to be part of a second wave of attacks that was going to fly airplanes into buildings. Then in this phase he said, no, he was supposed to be part of 9/11.
A very complex set of considerations for this jury. We'll find out in about a half hour what they're going to do -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Supposedly right at 4:30 Eastern time, about 26 minutes or so from now we'll get that verdict as it's read.
Let's bring in Jeff Toobin and do a little analysis as we wait.
He pleaded guilty to the charges, Jeff. The only question that the jurors are now considering is whether he spends the rest of his life in prison or whether he gets the death sentence. Now, one of the factors -- the conspiracy charges that carry the death penalty include this -- and we'll put it up on the screen, so that we can assess what these jurors are likely to do.
The conspiracy charges include that he committed acts of terrorism across national boundaries, including to destroy aircraft and a use of weapons of mass destruction.
Earlier, the jurors, Jeff, decided that the death penalty was potentially applicable. What is your assessment of what they're likely to do now?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the first part of this trial, the part where the government had to prove that Moussaoui was in fact eligible for the death penalty, the part about tying him to the 9/11 conspiracy, that was actually the tougher part for the government. Because the evidence against Moussaoui was not as strong as it might have been.
He was, as we have said many times, in prison on 9/11. He had been arrested in Minnesota for his bizarre behavior on an immigration violation when he was trying to get flight lessons in Minnesota. So he was in prison on 9/11.
Once, a month ago, this jury said that he was eligible for the death penalty, then, frankly, the easy part started for the government, because at that point, they got to prove just how bad 9/11 was, just what an enormous, horrific crime 9/11 was.
And for those weeks when the government put on the evidence, that's when Rudy Giuliani testified. That's when the cockpit flight recorder was played. That's when, you know, all the victims' families testified. It's hard for me to imagine, frankly, that evidence didn't push them towards the death penalty.
But this has been a long deliberation. As Jeanne said, it's been a longer deliberation than many of us expected. So perhaps there was a holdout. And the important thing to know is one holdout means life in prison.
BLITZER: Jeff, hold on for a moment.
Abraham Scott is joining us on the phone. His wife, Janice Scott, was killed at the Pentagon on 9/11. Abraham is driving now to the courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia.
Mr. Scott, what do you make of what's happening? What would you like to see these jurors decide?
ABRAHAM SCOTT, WIFE KILLED AT PENTAGON ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001: Well, I would like to see them to make the right decision. Hopefully, as I stated in a previous interview earlier today that the Lord has instilled in jurors the knowledge and the understanding to make the right decision.
Even though I wholeheartedly support the death penalty, I will also go along with life without parole. This has been long awaiting. It's going to bring some closure, not only to me but I'm sure to a number of the family members by the decision by the jury this afternoon.
BLITZER: I know, Mr. Scott, you've been in touch with a lot of other family members who have lost loved ones on 9/11. Based on your conversations, what do you think most of them would like to see? Would you like to see him get the death sentence or would you like to see him spend the rest of his life in prison?
SCOTT: Well, I can't speak for all of the family members. But based on the family members that I've spoken to previously, the majority of them prefer the death penalty.
BLITZER: And the reasoning being what?
SCOTT: The reason being that even though Mr. Moussaoui was not directly involved with 9/11, he could have come forward with information that could have prevented, if not stopped, all of 9/11 from occurring.
BLITZER: Now you're heading toward the courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, right now. You want to be inside when it's read or do you think you're not going to get there in time?
SCOTT: Well, I'm less than a quarter of a mile from there, and I will be in the courtroom when the decision is read.
BLITZER: How has it been during the course of this trial, the sentencing phase of this trial, for you personally reliving those horrendous moments?
SCOT: Yes, indeed. A lot of the things that were brought out in the courtroom that was my first time seeing and hearing. And it's been very stressful, but it's something that I wanted to -- something that I wanted to -- I wanted to happen. I wanted to be there when the deliberation occurred during the trial. I wanted to get firsthand information.
BLITZER: I'm going to let you go into the courthouse, Mr. Scott. But before I do, tell us a little bit about your wife, Janice. What was she doing at the Pentagon that day?
SCOTT: Janice was a supervisor budget analyst in the headquarters budget office. And -- excuse me for a minute. I'm a family member. Yes. OK. She was a supervisor budget analyst. I am just about in the parking area. I might lose you -- a supervisor budget analyst, and she was a team leader, one of two team leaders in the budget office. And she had just been promoted. Her career was aspiring. She, in my opinion, I think she would have achieved a higher level had she lived.
BLITZER: Well our deepest condolences to you, Mr. Scott. I know you're anxious to get inside that courtroom to hear the actual sentence. Thanks so much for joining us. We'll speak with you after the verdict is announced, whether or not Zacarias Moussaoui lives or dies, two options before these jurors: the death sentence or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Jeanne Meserve, as you have wait there, knowing what's been going on, the fact that they spent all these days considering all these mitigating circumstances, all of the evidence, what does it say to you, based on the conversations you've been having with former prosecutors, with defense attorneys, in terms of the likely direction, if at all -- if we could get any clues on what this jury might decide?
MESERVE: Well, let's be frank. Nobody knows what the situation is. These jurors have been in their jury room talking amongst themselves. And anybody who makes any observations about this is only speculating. The general rule of thumb is that when a jury in a capital case takes a long time to reach a verdict, it could be an indication that they are not going for capital punishment, that they are going in the other direction. However, several people have said that they think that this case is much more complex than most, singular in the fact that this is an individual -- the only individual to be prosecuted in connection with the 9/11 attacks and that it is such a very complex set of considerations, that the judge has instructed them to make, as they reach a verdict.
As I said, 42 pages in this jury form. A number of mitigating and aggravating factors that they have to weigh. So I don't think, Wolf, that anybody can say with any genuine confidence what they think the jury is going to be doing here, what we're going to hear in just a few minutes, Wolf.
BLITZER: Our Kelli Arena, Jeanne, as you know, is inside the courtroom right now. And she'll be emerging after the verdict is read to give us some of the specifics of what it was like in there. Kelli Arena is there. We're covering the story from all angles. Certainly this is a moment in American history that a lot of people are anxious to see for themselves. Abbi Tatton is our Internet reporter and is monitoring this online. There have been long days of deliberations. You have the specific forms, the questions that these jurors are considering, Abbi.
ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, it's a special verdict form that Jeanne was just mentioning, a 42-page document that jurors have been looking at over the past few days.
They're weighing aggravating against mitigating factors here. This long document goes through, first of all, the aggravating factors. Did the government show that Zacarias Moussaoui's actions caused the deaths of members of the New York City fire department?
It goes through line after line. The deaths of port authority officers. Also, massive disruption. Did Moussaoui's action contribute to the disruption of service on subway lines, the closure of parks, the closure of offices, all this detailed here.
They're weighing this against the mitigating factors here, 23 of these, a long list. This is what the defense was trying to show. Moussaoui, was he subject to racism as a child?
Did this contribute to something here? This is what they're weighing. Did he suffer from a psychotic disorder? Another one, will his execution create a martyr? All of this will be posted online to see at CNN/SITUATIONREPORT. Wolf?
BLITZER: You can watch it together with all of us, with those forms. Abbi, thanks very much.
Jack Cafferty is watching all of this from New York as well. Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, there's no question Zacarias Moussaoui deserves the harshest of punishments. Not only was he involved in the events of 9/11 that cost more than 3,000 innocent American lives, but if he had been honest with authorities at the time he was arrested in Minnesota in August of 2001, the entire tragedy might have been averted.
So the desire for vengeance against this subhuman cretin is not only understandable, but it's more than that. Execution might even be too good unless you could figure out some really horrible way to put him to death.
The problem with his execution is he becomes a martyr then for al Qaeda. He'll be glorified in the eyes of the other Muslim extremists who wish to do America further harm. And therein lies the dilemma, I suppose, for this jury.
We'll find out more about what went into their decision, obviously, as this afternoon wears on. We're interested in what you think, given the Muslim beliefs that go with execution, with the death penalty. The ascendance in the presence of Allah, the virgins that are awaiting this man. The question is this, what penalty does Zacarias Moussaoui deserves? The two options are death or life in prison and we'll know which one it's going to be in about a half hour. Wolf?
BLITZER: Jack, this notion that you raise, that if he's executed, he becomes a martyr and presumably, that could inspire others -- other terrorists around the world to pick up arms as if they need this kind of inspiration.
What do you make of that argument that it's better off for the U.S. to see him spend the rest of his life in jail rather than make him a so-called martyr?
CAFFERTY: Well the downside, I suppose, Wolf, of kind of an open society that we live in, is that we have created a larger-than-life figure. This is a kind of a pathetic, fat little bald misguided jerk, for a better way to describe him.
But we have put him on trial. We've spent weeks and weeks publicizing his encounter with the American criminal justice system. And in the eyes of the people that got him involved in this jihadist movement to begin with, we've created a kind of a poster boy for violence against the great Satan -- that would be us.
And in, you know, allowing our citizens and the families of the victims of 9/11 to participate and see and hear the judicial proceedings against him, including those cockpit tapes and looking at the footage of those horrible events of September 11, we've kind of glorified this guy.
And it's -- you know, in this particular case, it's an unfortunate byproduct of our system. But now we've got this guy set up to march off to wherever they go when they encounter death and get his great reward.
So, you know, we've sort of canonized him in a way, and it's unfortunate. And I suppose that if you were really hungry for vengeance against this person then you would make the argument that you deny him his martyrdom and put him in -- maybe that joint John Gotti was in, where is it, Marion, Illinois? That's supposed to be the toughest federal lockdown in the country.
Put him there and see what happens. Chances are he'll not be with us much longer one way or the other, if he winds up in that environment, unless they keep him in isolation.
I don't know what the answer is. I suppose the discussion is tempered by the religious beliefs of these people, which is from my mind far from rational to begin with.
BLITZER: All right, Jack, stand by. We're going to get back to you. We're going to hear from our viewers as well. I want to show our viewers that live picture and explain what we're about to see momentarily.
A public information officer from inside the courtroom, Edward Adams, will walk outside that building. We will see him walk outside toward the microphone, go to the podium, and just as the judge in this case, Leonie Brinkema, will be reading the jurors' verdict inside the courtroom, simultaneously Edward Adams will be reading the verdict to all of us.
We'll hear that live right here. We're standing by from that. We're only moments away from that live announcement from Edward Adams at that podium at the courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside the nation's capitol.
Our Kelli Arena is inside. We'll get the details from her as well. Jeff Toobin, our senior legal analyst, is watching all of this as is Jeanne Meserve and all of our other reporters. We're going to take a very short break.
Much more of our special coverage, awaiting the verdict in the Zacarias Moussaoui trial. Will he live or die? Much more of our coverage from THE SITUATION ROOM right after this.
BLITZER: This is a live picture of the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, outside Washington, D.C. Breaking news. We're awaiting the announcement of the verdict in the Zacaria Moussaoui trial. Zacaria Moussaoui, the conspirator who has pleaded guilty.
The question before the jurors, will he get the death sentence or will he serve the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole? Our Kelli Arena is inside the courthouse. We have our senior legal analyst Jeff Toobin standing by, our homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve. Let's go to the courthouse. Our producer, Phil Hirschkorn is outside the courthouse right now. Set the stage a little bit. Moments from now we will hear the announcement at that podium that has been set up, Phil.
PHIL HIRSCHKORN, CNN PRODUCER: That's right. And they're not going to waste our time. They're going to tell us the end result first. The first thing we're going to hear is what the jury decided, the final sentence, either life in prison or death. Then they'll go through this long checklist we've been hearing about on this 42 page verdict form. We have the graphics of the first three questions the jury must answer in order to get to a death penalty. These are the so-called aggravating factors. And by law, the jury must agree with at least one of these three questions.
And the three questions are that Moussaoui created a grave risk of death to people besides the attack victims by participating in the conspiracy, that he acted in a heinous and cruel and depraved manner that involved physical harm. And that Moussaoui acted after substantial planning and premeditation to cause deaths.
If the jury agrees unanimously that the government proved at least one of those three questions, then they will go on to this much longer list of questions, seven other aggravating factors. And the main aggravating factor that this case was about was victim impact.
The government certainly proved that 9/11 caused harm to the victims' families and caused injuries to the survivors. Those are the kinds of other aggravating factors besides showing no remorse is another one, that the jury will be voting on and has voted on in its verdict form.
I just want to mention one thing about the defense mitigating factors, factors that go against the death penalty. There are 23 of them. It is going to be a very long list. The three we really want to look for are the question of whether Moussaoui will become an al Qaeda martyr if he's executed. Another one is whether life in a super maximum security prison in Florence, Colorado, is in a way harsher punishment than death by lethal injection.
In previous terrorism trials some jurors have agreed with those two points. We should really be listening carefully for how they voted on that. Lastly the defense wants the jury to believe that Moussaoui had a minor role in the hijacking conspiracy and other al Qaeda leaders as culpable as Moussaoui don't yet face the death penalty. Those are some of the key factors to listen for in the next few minutes when we hear the verdict.
BLITZER: What about, Phil, this other defense argument that has been made, that he's mentally unstable?
HIRSCHKORN: Well, that one is very much a gray area. The defense called experts who said, yes, he's paranoid schizophrenic. He was brainwashed by al Qaeda. But the government had a different psychiatrist who's frankly the only one that spent hours alone with Moussaoui and he said, no, he's got a personality disorder but he's not paranoid schizophrenic, not what we would call crazy.
BLITZER: Jeff Toobin, I want to bring him into this conversation as well, our senior legal analyst. This is not a majority decision among these jurors. They have to decide unanimously, right?
TOOBIN: Absolutely, 11 to one in favor of the death penalty will result in a sentence of life in prison. They have to get all of the jurors to agree on the ultimate result and they have to agree on at least one of the three main aggravating factors.
This is the verdict form. It's 42 pages of verdict form. And I have to tell you, I have never seen a more complicated verdict form in a trial. It is really -- it was a big -- it was a lot to go through for this jury. Seven days is a long time. But I think in partial explanation of it, the jury's task is at once very simple, life or death, but also extremely complicated.
Twenty three mitigating factors, all of which have to be voted on. All of those aggravating factors have to be voted on. The fact that it took a long time is somewhat surprising. But when you look at the task in front of this jury, it makes it a little more understandable.
BLITZER: All right, Jeff. Stand by. I want all of our reporters to stand by. We're going to another take a short break. Momentarily we'll see a court public information officer walk out of that building in the courthouse, walk over to the microphone, and announce the verdict.
Zacaria Moussaoui, the only man convicted of any involvement in the 9/11 attacks, will either spend the rest of his life in jail or will be sentenced to death. Much more of our coverage right after this.
BLITZER: In less than two minutes, U.S. district court judge Leoni Brinkema is about to reconvene this session to hear the verdict of the jurors in the Zacaria Moussaoui trial. Will he live? Will he die?
As you know, he pleaded guilty. The two questions before the jurors right now, will he spend the rest of his life in jail or will he be sentenced to death?
I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. We're watching this story unfold outside Washington, D.C., in Alexandria, Virginia.
Three circumstances, three mitigating circumstances the jurors must unanimously agree on to determine whether or not this man lives or dies. Let me put those words up on the screen, because they are very precise.
Moussaoui created a grave risk of death to people besides attack victims. That is the first. Whether or not the jurors unanimously agree on that. The second, do they unanimously agree that Moussaoui acted in a heinous, cruel or depraved manner that involved physical harm? Second question. Third, did Moussaoui act after substantial planning and premeditation to cause deaths?
Our homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve has been watching all of these questions, mulled all the evidence brought forth over the past several weeks. Jeanne, the jurors must act unanimously if he is going to get the death sentence. In all of your conversations, Jeanne, with family members of those killed on 9/11, was there any sense you got that most of them wanted to see him get the death sentence or did they want him to spend the rest of his life in jail in your anecdotal conversations with family members?
MESERVE: Well, there was a split.
There were some who testified that -- for the prosecution, who spelled out the agony that they had gone through on 9/11 and the days since, some of it just absolutely wrenching testimony, to hear from one father that he was on the phone with his son, as the plane -- as he watched on television his son's plane go into the World Trade Center, another woman talking very emotionally and with some humor about her husband and what a fantastic guy he had been, both to her and to the children, always surprising her with foot massaging and midnight picnics in the living room and so forth, really very emotional stuff.
But, probably, you can't forget that there were other family members who, for various reasons, disagreed with the death penalty. And they testified for the defense. They could never say explicitly in the courtroom, we oppose the death penalty. But it was in the clear in the terms that they used and the fact that they were testifying in that part of the trial that they had a very different point of view.
I would say that -- what had just as much impact, I think, as that testimony was probably the testimony of Moussaoui himself. Now, the jury saw him at the side of the courtroom most of the time, fairly passive. He would occasionally make a hand gesture. He would survey those of us in the audience, survey the jury.
When he had outbursts -- and he did almost every day, almost at every break -- he waited until the jury was out of the courtroom before he would say things, like, "Burn in the USA."
But then they saw him on the stand. They got to hear from his lips what he believed, what he claimed was his part in this whole plot. Of course, what he came to say in the second phase of this trial is that he was supposed to be part of a plot to fly a plane on 9/11, that Richard Reid was one of his confederates. There was then debate about whether Richard Reid should be brought into the courtroom.
In the end, he was not. But there was a stipulation introduced in which agreed -- it was agreed by both the defense and prosecution that Reid had no part to play in that particular plot.
But, on the family members themselves, very contradictory points of view, depending on which family you were, what your religious beliefs are, how all of this impacted you -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, who's in prison in the United States right now.
MESERVE: That's right.
BLITZER: Jeanne, stand by. We're waiting for the verdict. We're waiting for the announcement at that podium outside the courtroom. The public information officer momentarily will walk out and tell us whether Zacarias Moussaoui will live or will die.
Jeff Toobin, if they give him the death sentence, presumably, he's still years away from actually being executed, given the appeals process that almost is automatic. Is that right?
You know, there is some question about whether Moussaoui himself will authorize an appeal. And that could happen down the line, that he would withdraw an appeal. But, certainly, the initial appeals will start, whether or not he wants to proceed.
And, Wolf, frankly, I think there may be a really serious appeal issue on this case. The Supreme Court has almost said -- never quite said -- that, in order to be executed, you have to commit the murder yourself. You have to wield the knife, shoot the gun.
What the question here is, can he be executed, in effect, for lying to the FBI? You know, Martha Stewart lied to the FBI, and she got six months in camp cupcake. That's the more typical sentence for lying to the FBI.
Obviously, the circumstances are entirely different. But, you know, I think appeals courts and, even if -- the Supreme Court, if it comes to that, might have trouble with this case, if it comes to a death sentence. If it's life in prison...
BLITZER: The argument, Jeff, the argument...
BLITZER: ... is that his lying to the FBI resulted in the deaths of all of these 3,000 people on 9/11, the argument being, if he had told the truth about what he knew about this plot, it might have been prevented.
TOOBIN: Absolutely. That is the core of the prosecution's case. And that's what the jury is weighing.
The question is, is that legally sufficient, under the Supreme Court's precedence about the death penalty, to generate the -- a death sentence? Is that a direct enough role in the murders of these people? It might be. I don't know.
But it is certainly a question that the Supreme Court has never passed on anything like this before. And it's something that, unlike most convictions -- I mean, you know, 90 percent-plus convictions are affirmed on appeal. But death sentences generally generate a lot closer scrutiny from appeals courts.
And this one -- well, I want to stop. BLITZER: All right. Jeff, hold...
TOOBIN: And let's listen.
BLITZER: Hold on, Jeff.
This is Edward Adams, the court public information officer. He has a photocopy of the verdict. Let's listen.
EDWARD ADAMS, COURT PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER: My name is Edward Adams. I'm the court's public information officer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can't hear you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can't hear you.
ADAMS: In the case of United States vs. Zacarias Moussaoui, as to count one, conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries, and count three, conspiracy to destroy aircraft, and count four, conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, the jury has found the defendant should be sentenced to life in prison, without the possibility of release.
The jury verdict form does not indicate the number of jurors who voted for a sentence of life or the number of jurors, if any, who voted for a sentence of death. All that the jury was required to report was that they were not unanimous in favor of a sentence of death.
On each of the three counts, the jurors were asked to make findings about aggravating factors, which tend to support a sentence of death, and mitigating factors, which tend to support a sentence of life in prison. Aggravating and mitigating factors which the jurors found to be proven were then weighed by them, assigned whatever weight they deemed appropriate, before they determined their sentence.
The aggravating and mitigating factors were identical on all three counts. The jurors' findings on each particular factor were not identical.
I will be reading to you from their findings on the aggravating and mitigating factors on count one. The remainder of their findings will be posted on the court's Web site within the next hour.
The prosecutors put before the jury 10 aggravating factors. For an aggravating factor to be considered by the jury, they had to unanimously find that factor had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
These are their findings on the aggravating factors. The jury unanimously found the defendant knowingly created a grave risk of death to one or more persons, in addition to the victims of the offense.
The jury unanimously found the defendant committed the offense -- excuse me, let me start again -- the jury did not unanimously find that the defendant committed the offense in an especially heinous, cruel or depraved manner, in that it involved torture or serious physical abuse to the victims -- or victims.
The jury unanimously found that the defendant committed the offense after substantial planning and premeditation to cause the death of a person or to commit an act of terrorism.
The jury unanimously found that the defendant entered the United States for the purpose of gaining specialized knowledge in flying an aircraft, in order to kill as many American citizens as possible.
The jury did not unanimously find that the actions of the defendant resulted in the deaths of approximately 3,000 people.
The jury unanimously found that the actions of the defendant resulted in serious physical and emotional injuries, including maiming, disfigurement and permanent disability to numerous individuals who survived the offense.
The jury unanimously found that, as demonstrated by the victims' personal characteristics as individual human beings and the impact of their deaths upon their family, friends and co-workers, the defendant caused injury, harm and loss to the victims, their families, their friends and their co-workers.
The jury unanimously found that the government had proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the actions of the defendant were intended to cause -- and, in fact, did cause -- tremendous disruption to the function of the city of New York and its economy.
The jury unanimously found that the actions of the defendant were intended to cause and, in fact, did cause tremendous disruption to the function of the Pentagon.
The jury unanimously found that the defendant has demonstrated a lack of remorse for his criminal conduct.
Those are the jury's findings on the aggravating factors as to count one.
Defense counsel put before the jury 23 mitigating factors. For the jury to consider a mitigating factor, it had to be proven by a preponderance of the evidence, which is the lower standard than beyond a reasonable doubt, which was used on the aggravating factors.
Also, the jury need not unanimously find that the mitigating factor had been proven. If only one or more jurors found the factor had been proven, they could consider it when determining the sentence.
These are the findings on the 23 mitigating factors. For each, the jury reports the number of jurors who so found it proven.
Five jurors found that, if he is not sentenced to death, the defendant will be incarcerated in prison for the rest of his life, without the possibility of release. One juror found that the defendant has maintained a nonviolent record for the past four years while incarcerated in the Alexandria detention center, with minimal rules violations.
One juror found that the Federal Bureau of Prisons found has the authority and ability to maintain the defendant under highly secure conditions.
Three jurors found that, given his conduct and the likely conditions of his maximum security confinement, the defendant will not present a substantial risk to prison officials or other inmates if he is sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release.
No jurors found that a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of release, under strict conditions of the Bureau of Prisons is likely to impose, will be a more severe punishment for the defendant than a sentence of death.
No jurors found that the defendant believes that his execution will be part of his jihad and will provide him with the rewards attendant to a martyr's death.
No jurors found that the execution of the defendant will create a martyr for radical Muslim fundamentalists and to al Qaeda in particular.
Nine jurors found that the defendant's unstable early childhood and dysfunctional family resulted in his being placed in orphanages and having a home life without structure and emotional and financial support, eventually resulting in his leaving home due to his hostile relationship with his mother.
Nine jurors found, the defendant's father had a violent temper and physically and emotionally abused his family.
Two jurors found the defendant's father abandoned him and his siblings, leaving his mother to support and raise their children on her own.
Three jurors found that the defendant was subject to racism as a youngster because of his Moroccan background, which affected him deeply.
No jurors found the defendant's mother had a violent uncle or men unrelated to the family living in the home with the family.
Four jurors found the defendant's two sisters and his father all suffered from psychotic illnesses.
No jurors found that, even though the defendant arrived in England with no money and lived in a homeless shelter, he endured the hardship and, through perseverance, graduated with a master's degree from South Bank University.
No jurors found that the defendant's mother's failure to provide her children with any meaningful religious training or practice left the defendant without theological or intellectual basis to resist the preachings and propaganda of radical Muslim fundamentalists in London, who provided him with a sense of group identity he never had.
No jurors found the defendant suffers from a psychotic disorder, most likely schizophrenia, paranoid subtype.
No jurors found the defendant's role in al Qaeda while in Afghanistan was as a security clerk at a guest house and as a driver for persons staying at the guest house.
No jurors found the defendant's testimony about his plan to fly a plane into the White House is unreliable and is contradicted by his statements about other plots he was involved in.
Three jurors found that the defendant's role in the 9/11 operation, if any, was minor.
One juror found that the defendant was incarcerated on the day of the 9/11 attacks.
No jurors found the defendant was an ineffectual al Qaeda operative.
No jurors found that other persons who were equally culpable in the offense, whether indicted or not, will not be punished by death and/or have not been subject of a capital punishment -- of capital prosecution.
No jurors found that other factors in the background or character of the defendant suggests that life without the possibility of release is the most appropriate punishment.
Under the law, the jurors may also write in mitigating factors they believe have been proven by the evidence, but were not suggested to them by defense counsel.
On count one, the jurors wrote in one such factor. They wrote that the defendant had limited knowledge of the 9/11 attack plans. Three jurors found that mitigating factor to have been proven.
The jury's recommendation of a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of release is binding on the judge, who will sentence the defendant at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow.
BLITZER: Edward Adams, the court public information officer, making the announcement that Zacarias Moussaoui will spend the rest of his life in an American prison, without the possibility of parole, spared the death sentence by these jurors in this federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia.
We're going to be getting extensive reaction from family members, from the prosecutors, from the defense team. The bottom line, though, is that he's not going to die. He's going to be spending the rest of his life in prison, will not get the death sentence.
Jeff Toobin is our senior legal analyst. He was listening, together with all of us, here in the United States, Jeff, and around the world. What do you make of what we just saw?
TOOBIN: I think, on balance, it has got to count as a surprise, given the magnitude of this crime, given the extensiveness of the damage, and the fact that he's the only person who has been tried. The thing I would zero in on is the mitigating factor that the jury came up with themselves, which was that the defendant had limited knowledge of the 9/11 attack plan.
You know, the fact that Moussaoui was in prison at the time of 9/11, that he did appear, even under the government's theory, to be a relatively peripheral participant, if you listen to all the jury's findings, I think that was the key aspect of this trial on the defense's behalf.
And I think that was the one that persuaded at least one juror. And we don't know how many jurors it was. Given this vote, it sounds like there were certainly at least some, and perhaps even a majority, of jurors who wanted the death penalty.
But it seems like at least one of them was persuaded that Moussaoui was simply too minor a player to execute.
BLITZER: And did you say, Jeff, it's already clear which federal prison he will be spending the rest of his life in?
TOOBIN: Well, that's ultimately up to the Bureau of Prisons. But it will almost certainly be the Supermax in Florence, Colorado, which is sometimes known as the Alcatraz in the Rockies. It's just outside Denver.
It's where Ted Kaczynski is. It's where Terry Nichols, the Oklahoma City bomber, is. It is a place of extraordinary security, 23 hours a day in cells, one hour of recreation. There has never been an escape. There has never been anything close to an escape.
It is as close to permanent solitary confinement as exists in the -- in our prison system. And it's not much of a life. It's not being executed, but it's pretty darn bad.
BLITZER: And given the heinous nature of this crime, presumably, he's going to be in solitary confinement, as you point out, 23 hours a day, and very limited contact with prisoners, even during that one hour a day of recreation, given the nature of what he's convicted of.
TOOBIN: Absolutely, Wolf.
Everyone in Florence is in solitary confinement. The recreation is individual. They have a television set in the -- in their cells that programs only religious and certain educational programming that's approved by the prison.
It's so restrictive that, you know, anything else in the federal system pales in comparison. So, I'm sure there are many people who are disappointed that he's not going to be executed. But, as was presented to this jury, that is a form of death. And he will die in prison. He will just die later, rather than sooner. BLITZER: I want you to stand by, Jeff Toobin.
Our Kelli Arena is inside the courthouse right now. She is going to be emerging momentarily. We will get her eyewitness account, what it was like when all of these announcements were made, the specific verdict was read that he will spend the rest of his life in prison, will not be executed.
Also joining us now is former Congressman Tim Roemer, who was commissioner one of the -- one of the 9/11 commissioners.
I know you have spent a lot of time, Congressman, with family members. What do you make? What's your reaction to this decision?
TIMOTHY ROEMER, FORMER 9/11 COMMISSION MEMBER: Well, Wolf, my first reaction -- I have three. My first reaction is that, as we in the United States of America are a system and a country of values and stand for justice in the world, this is a legal outcome that some people will be divided on.
There will be lots of opinions about whether this was the right or the wrong opinion. But we have a system that works. And for the hearts and minds in the world, looking at our system, this is what really separates us from the terrorists.
Two, Wolf, I hope that this brings, as we have movies, like "United 93," coming out about the bravery of the family members that were lost on 9/11, that the families have some kind of resolution, some kind of -- they had their day in court, and they will have continued discussion about this.
And, lastly, and maybe one of the most important outcomes of this, Wolf, is, we need to make sure that, if the justice system functioned today, it should also work for KSM, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who was captured by America, who we have, who took the plot to Osama bin Laden. He should be the next one up for trial.
BLITZER: You want him be -- to be tried here in the United States?
ROEMER: I don't know precisely the best way, the best venue. But he should be tried. Here is the person that was responsible for 3,000 people dying.
He is the one who took this plane's operation, originally with 10 planes, five on the East Coast, five on the West Coast, to Osama bin Laden. We know where he is. We have detained him. We have interrogated him. We have had him for over three years.
I think it's time for him to go through some form of justice and be a face to the world about what 9/11 was about.
BLITZER: All right, Tim Roemer, I would like you to stand by for a few moments. We want to continue to get your reaction.
Jeanne Meserve is watching all of this, our Homeland Security correspondent.
The Justice Department, the U.S. attorneys, the federal government, they moved aggressively to try to get the death sentence. They failed in that effort. How much of a disappointment, Jeanne, do you suspect this is for federal prosecutors?
MESERVE: I have to believe, Wolf, this is a major disappointment.
This was four years of effort on the part of the Justice Department. It is their only 9/11-related trial. They saved up and stored up the best evidence they had and put it out here. They put their best prosecutors on this -- on this case. We're going to hear from the deputy attorney general shortly. The attorney general himself is traveling.
But I have to believe that there is disappointment on the part of the U.S. government at this point in time.
Wolf, if I could just make an observation about the jury and what I think might have stuck with them, looking at how they voted on these mitigating factors, first, as Jeffrey Toobin mentioned, very important to notice what they said, that the mitigating factor that they added, that they didn't think he had knowledge of the 9/11 attack plans.
But, in addition, all nine jurors voted on the couple of mitigating factors that related to his violent and very dysfunctional childhood. That was very compelling evidence that was put on there, in which they talked about extraordinary violence in the household, where, in one instance, Moussaoui's father had broken his mother's jaw with his bare hands.
At another time, he had tried to persuade her to put her ear to a keyhole he, so he could ram a skewer through the keyhole, and with the theory that this would -- this would pierce her brain. Obviously, it didn't happen, but it was very gripping testimony, to say the least. So, I think that might have been one thing that stuck with them in the jury room -- back to you, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Jeanne, thanks. We're going to get back to you.
Kelli Arena has now emerged from the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia.
Kelli, you were inside as Judge Leonie Brinkema read all of these verdicts. The foreman read it. Tell our viewers what it was like inside the courtroom.
KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, very quiet.
But there were no gasps, no tears. Some family members were in that courtroom when that verdict was read. And they did not react. And, interestingly, neither did Zacarias Moussaoui. He just sat there staring straight ahead, the jury as stone-faced as they have ever been, while all the results of -- of their hard work were read to the entire courtroom.
When Moussaoui left the courtroom, though, he did his usual, you know, making a remark. And he said, "America, you lost. Raskin and Novak," the names of two of the prosecutors, "you lost. I won." And then he clapped his hands on his way out of the courtroom.
The judge has set his sentencing for 10:00 tomorrow morning. She told the lawyers something she said before in this case, Wolf, that she commended them and congratulated them for all the hard work that they did, even though they had such a difficult client, especially the defense.
At this point, Moussaoui gave a victory sign, you know, when she was talking about him as a difficult client. She said that the government always wins when justice is done, and that doesn't necessarily refer to the outcome, but how that justice was achieved. And she believes, as she has said before, that Zacarias Moussaoui got a fair trial. And she believes that the jury served the interests of the American people fully.
So, well, he did not say anything beyond his statement as he was leaving the court. I'm referring to Moussaoui. Perhaps tomorrow, we will hear more from him -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Well, you know, it's interesting, what he said as he was emerging from the courtroom, when he was uttering those words to the prosecutors: "You lost. I won."
Hadn't he made just the opposite kinds of statements, that he wanted to die, he wanted to be a martyr, in the course of this trial?
ARENA: Wolf, he has made all sorts of statements, and much -- most of them have been conflicting.
He has said in filings before that he believed that it would serve his jihad to die. He has said in court that it would not. So, you know, it depends on the day that you spoke to him, in the same way that he said at one point that he was supposed to be part of a second plot and not a part of the actual events on September 11. And then he said that he was.
So, like everything that has come out of his mouth, it depends on which day you hear from him.
BLITZER: Kelli, I'm going to let you go through your notes again. I want to come back to you momentarily.
But joining us on the phone is Don Goodrich. He's the chairman of the board of families of September 11. His son Peter Goodrich was on United Airline Flight 175.
Mr. Goodrich, what -- what's your reaction to this verdict that Zacarias Moussaoui will spend the rest of his life in prison, without the possibility of parole, spared the death sentence?
DON GOODRICH, FATHER OF SEPTEMBER 11 VICTIM: I think it's the best outcome.
The basic purpose of our criminal justice system is to deter future acts of this type. And putting him to death would not deter future terrorist acts. I think it probably would increase their likeliness of occurrence.
And it's to punish. And Zacarias Moussaoui, I think, is a very troubled man. And whether he's being punished or not is highly questionable, because he has taken different positions at different times on his role in September 11 and his desire to be a martyr for a terrorist cause. So, I don't think that the goal of punishment would have been accomplished either.
BLITZER: Mr. Goodrich, is that the prevailing sense you got from a lot of your co-family members?
GOODRICH: No. I can't comment on whether there is even a prevailing sense.
I think that the process of responding to the loss of a loved one in an event like this is so disparate across family members that I think the response is hard to characterize as -- as prevailing or otherwise.
BLITZER: Does this do anything for you, now that it's over, that he's going to spend the rest of his life in jail?
GOODRICH: No, it does nothing. There are so many others higher in the chain of causation than Zacarias Moussaoui who have not been held to account -- of course, the highest being Osama bin Laden -- that this is not helpful at all. And, in fact, the process has been very stressful.
BLITZER: All right.
Our deepest condolences to you, Mr. Goodrich. Thanks for spending a few moments on this day.
We're getting more reaction from family members.
Lisa Dolan is joining us now.
Can you hear me, Lisa?
Oh, she's speaking at the news conference at the courthouse.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
LISA DOLAN, WIFE OF SEPTEMBER 11 VICTIM: ... have been with us throughout this trial, ensuring our safety and making sure we have had everything we have needed, even if it's just a smile.
We would like to specifically point out the efforts of Wendell Samuels (ph), Gary Cooper (ph), Robert Wood (ph), Mr. Randall (ph), and Joe Morales (ph). We would also like to echo Judge Brinkema's sentiments and send kudos to both the prosecution and defense team, as well as the men and women of the jury. They all had difficult jobs to accomplish. But our very special thanks to the prosecution team and special recognition to David Novak, David Raskin and Rob Spencer. Their hard work and efforts over these many years has been incredible.
Lastly, we would be remiss if we did not thank the FBI and the Department of Justice, who have taken this journey with us these last four years. Their understanding and their compassion throughout this experience has been unparalleled.
Special thanks to Karen Sphinx (ph), Harry Brady (ph) and Crystal Greago (ph).
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