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Giuliani describes 9/11 horrors

Gripping words, images mark second phase of Moussaoui trial

From Phil Hirschkorn
CNN

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Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is among the witnesses the government plans to call.

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ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (CNN) -- Jurors saw gripping videotape of jetliners crashing into the World Trade Center and people jumping to their deaths as the nation's first trial about the September 11, 2001, attacks resumed Thursday.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani described the horrific scene as the prosecution's first witness in the final phase of al Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui's death penalty trial.

"I was watching this man throwing himself out, fleeing the flame and the smoke," Giuliani said. He said he saw the man hit the pavement. (Watch 'extravaganza of grief' -- 2:45)

"It switched my thinking about this," Giuliani said.

He testified he later saw what he called the most indelible 9/11 image seared into his memory -- a couple holding hands as they leaped from one of the flaming towers.

"We are in uncharted territory. This is much worse than anything we have ever faced before," Giuliani said he told his police commissioner.

The government called Giuliani to summarize the impact of the terrorist attacks.

Giuliani's testimony followed brief opening statements by both sides to start the trial's second half.

When he was told the first plane had struck the north tower at 8:46 a.m., Giuliani said he immediately left a breakfast meeting in Midtown Manhattan.

As he arrived on the scene in Lower Manhattan, he said he saw a second jetliner crash into the south tower.

Giuliani: 'This was war'

"By the time the second plane hit, we knew it was a terrorist attack," Giuliani said. "This was war. This was a battle."

Jurors also saw the only known videotape showing American Airlines Flight 11 crashing into the north tower and three clips of United Airlines Flight 175 plowing into the south tower.

Later, some jurors covered their mouths as prosecutors played clips of the two towers collapsing.

"It seemed like a minor earthquake," Giuliani said. When the first tower fell, it was "like a nuclear cloud going through the streets," he added, "as if the debris was chasing you from south to north."

Giuliani explained how remains of only half of the trade center victims were recovered for burial. The city's medical examiner told him most people in the towers were "vaporized." (Read the stories of those who lost loved ones that day)

He said the smell of burning flesh at Ground Zero was "horrid" as fires burned for 90 days.

"It was the worst thing I have ever seen in my whole life," Giuliani recalled.

In the spectator's section, a handful of family members of 9/11 victims grew tearful during Thursday's dramatic testimony.

In contrast, Moussaoui's demeanor alternated between smiles and boredom.

Towers as 'slaughterhouses'

Moussaoui sang "Burn in the U.S.A." an apparent parody of the Bruce Springsteen anthem, as he left the courtroom for a break. "America, you can go to hell," he said outside the jurors' presence.

Moussaoui, 37, a Frenchman of Moroccan descent, admitted last year that he conspired with al Qaeda, the terrorist group responsible for September 11, to hijack and crash planes into prominent U.S. buildings.

On Monday, jurors held Moussaoui responsible for at least some 9/11 deaths, finding his lies to investigators a month before the attacks furthered al Qaeda's plot.

Prosecutors are asking jurors to condemn Moussaoui to death by lethal injection for his role in the attacks.

Moussaoui's defense is asking for the only other option, a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Defense attorney Gerald Zerkin told jurors Moussaoui is delusional, believing that his lawyers are part of a conspiracy to kill him and that President Bush will ultimately release him from prison.

But prosecutor Robert Spencer said Moussaoui was "proud and unrepentant to have done his part," warning jurors that the defense would offer a "series of excuses."

He told jurors it was time for them to "hear the voices" and learn of the suffering caused by the attacks. Prosecutors unveiled a scale model of the twin towers to aid Guiliani and others with their testimony.

Spencer said, "Al Qaeda turned those buildings into slaughterhouses."

Spencer told jurors they also would hear the frantic words of people trapped inside the towers and aboard the four hijacked planes.

Prosecutor: 'Anguish, terror and death' repeated 3,000 times

Spencer recounted the call of Melissa Doi, 32, who worked on the 83rd floor of the south tower.

"The floor is completely engulfed," Spencer said Doi told the 911 dispatcher. "All I see is smoke. I'm going to die, aren't I? I'm going to die."

Spencer said Doi's "pain, anguish, terror and death" was repeated nearly 3,000 times on September 11.

Next week, jurors will be able to hear the cockpit voice recording from United Airlines Flight 93, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema decided Wednesday.

The cockpit recording, the only one recovered from the four hijacked planes, documents the struggle by the plane's passengers and crew to take back the cockpit, family members who have heard the tape say. The plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, killing all 40 people on board.

The prosecutor told jurors they also will hear an answering machine message left by Flight 93 flight attendant Ceecee Lyles, 33, for her husband, Lorne, at their home in Fort Myers, Florida.

"I want to tell you that I love you. Please tell my children that I love them very much. I'm sorry, baby, I wish I could see your face again," Lyles said in the recording, Spencer told jurors.

The recording is among many September 11 victims' phone calls that have never been played publicly before.

Focusing on the 9/11 victims, Spencer said each had "hopes and dreams and sorrows and joys. Each had a future brutally stolen, cut down by hate-filled fanatics."

Defense attorney Zerkin said there is no denying the suffering caused by the terrorist attacks but added that the defense will show Moussaoui was a troubled and impressionable young man who fell into the grip of extremists.

Psychiatrists set to testify

Zerkin said the defense would present two psychiatrists who will testify that Moussaoui suffers from paranoid schizophrenia.

It is a condition for which Moussaoui was "genetically loaded," said Zerkin, adding that both of the defendant's sisters and father suffered from some form of the disorder.

Zerkin said that while Moussaoui might have seem lucid during his testimony, schizophrenics are often people who are intelligent and speak well. But he contended that Moussaoui is not sane.

"It doesn't always look [like] 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' or a dishelveled Unabomber," Zerkin said. He likened his client to the character in the 2001 award-winning movie "A Beautiful Mind."

Zerkin said Moussaoui's upbringing left him detached from his Muslim heritage and vulnerable to recruitment by radical fundamentalists.

Al Qaeda subjected the defendant to "indoctrination" and "brainwashing," he said, teaching him the United States was the oppressor of Muslims worldwide.

"Mr. Moussaoui believed it, and he believes it to this day," Zerkin said.

Moussaoui smiled when he heard those words.

"You must open yourselves to the possibility of a sentence other than death," Zerkin told jurors.

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