March 14, 2006 — -- Families of victims of Sept. 11, 2001, are horrified at the possibility that al Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui may be spared the death penalty.
"I lost my son on 9/11," Sally Regenhard said. "He was just the most wonderful person that God ever made. I was looking to this trial to see if we could eradicate one evil person, to remove one force of evil from this beautiful world, and this is why I'm devastated to see that again. We may have lost the only opportunity that was really left for us to have some justice."
Moussaoui pleaded guilty in April to conspiring with al Qaeda to fly airplanes into U.S. buildings, although he denied having any role in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkman suspended Moussaoui's sentencing trial on Monday to assess the misconduct of government lawyer Carla Martin, who had provided seven witnesses with information from opening statements.
"I was really horrified and very outraged to hear that this type of mistake was made," Regenhard said. "This is probably one of the most important trials in the history of this country -- how someone could put that at risk. She betrayed the families of the victims who certainly have been waiting nearly five long years to get some kind of scintilla of justice."
Defense attorney Edward MacMahon has moved to bar the government from pursuing the death penalty, and, if he wins, Moussaoui will automatically be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Families of the 9/11 victims say that is not enough.
"We don't have the answers, and we're looking around every corner," said Barry Zelman whose brother died on 9/11. "My brother's life was very important, so me pursuing the people who killed him is very important. I felt the government dropped the ball."