I appreciate them where I can find them. Here’s one from Washington, DC, announced this evening:
ALEXANDRIA, Va., May 3 — A federal jury rejected the death penalty for Zacarias Moussaoui on Wednesday, deciding instead that he should be sentenced to life in prison for his role in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The verdict seemed to surprise most people in the courtroom here, notably Justice Department prosecutors. They had relentlessly urged the jurors that Mr. Moussaoui, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in April 2005, should be executed for his role in the deaths and destruction of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Jurors left the courthouse without speaking about their reasoning. But court officials read aloud details of what factors the jurors had voted to consider as they decided Mr. Moussaoui’s fate, including his troubled upbringing in a dysfunctional immigrant Moroccan family in France.
The decision means that the sole individual charged in a United States courtroom in connection with the worst attack on American soil will spend the rest of his life in solitary confinement in a federal prison in Colorado with no possibility of release.
… Under the federal death penalty law, Judge Brinkema is obliged to impose the sentence chosen by the jury, and she said she would formally sentence Mr. Moussaoui on Thursday morning.
As I said in an earlier case, mutatis mutandis,
It is also good to see that justice for Rudolph will come untainted by wrath. The last thing we need is a martyr for the terrorist wing of the anti-abortion movement, and the last thing I need is to be stuck with defending the rights of yet another ghastly shell of a human being who is obviously guilty as hell to be free of the hangman’s noose. Thank Heaven for small mercies.
Of course, the usual pack of ruddy-faced chest-beaters will be screaming for blood. In fact, they’ve already started. There’s not much to say to those who revel in fantasized torture and slaughter. There is a lot more to say to those who have an argument rather than just a snarl, but most of it I’ve already said in GT 2004-12-15: God damn it and GT 2005-12-13: Murder in the first. The New York Times, though, does leave us with this attempt at a parting shot:
Rosemary Cain, who lost her son George, a New York firefighter, said she heard the verdict on her car radio.I had a kind of sinking feeling in my stomach,Ms. Cain said.I was absolutely hoping they would put him to death.
He is just an empty, empty person,she said.There are just some people who cannot be rehabilitated.
This may very well be true–both in principle and in application. But saving the souls of the wicked is not a legitimate aim for a system of criminal justice in the first place. Neither is avenging the dead, or indulging victims’ loved ones in a sadistic quest for
closure through inflicting pain and death. If it has a legitimate purpose, it is to restrain criminals from harming anyone else. The jurors did that today, with a sentence as stern as anyone has a right to demand, and I say good on them for it.