Mixed Reactions as Moussaoui Heads to Supermax

ByABC News via GMA logo
May 4, 2006, 7:38 AM

May 4, 2006 — -- The families of those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks have met the jury's surprising decision to sentence admitted al Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui to life in prison instead of death with mixed reactions.

To many who thought he deserved the death penalty, it was a slap in the face. Others thought life in prison was a fitting punishment.

"There's absolutely nothing in this country that all 9/11 family members are going to agree upon except that the attacks should never happen again, and I respect everyone's opinion," said Carie Lemack, whose mother, Judy Larocque, died on American Airlines Flight 11, which was flown into the World Trade Center.

"I think what's important is that we make sure Moussaoui not get what he wants, which is to become a martyr and go down in history being someone bigger than he was. I'm glad that the jury looked at the evidence and realized he's just an al Qaeda wannabe."

President Bush, who said that Moussaoui "got a fair trial," accepted the jury's decision.

"A jury convicted him to life in prison where he'll spend the rest of his life," Bush said. "In so doing they spared his life, which is something he evidently wasn't willing to do for innocent American citizens."

To sentence Moussaoui to death, jurors needed to be unanimous in their decision. However, the panel of nine men and three women was unable to agree unanimously after seven days of deliberation.

"Three jurors found that the defendant's role in the 9/11 operation, if any, was minor," said Ed Adams, a court spokesman.

The decision to spare Moussaoui outraged Margaret Pothier, whose relative was killed in the attacks.

"If not the death penalty for this, when?" she said.

For Lemack, a co-founder of Families of September 11 and a co-founder of The Family Steering Committee, which worked closely with the 9/11 Commission, this decision makes sense.

"I thought about it last night, and what I really want is a hug from my mom," she said. "When I looked at the news and heard he's [Moussaoui] going to be 23 hours a day alone, and the next hours he's outside of the cell but still alone, it made me feel a little more relieved to think he never gets a hug from his mother again."