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More 9/11 families testify for Moussaoui

By Phil Hirschkorn
CNN

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September 11 attacks
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ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (CNN) -- Seven more relatives of people killed in the attacks testified Thursday as defense attorneys for al Qaeda terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui rested their case.

Like the half-dozen family members of victims who testified for the defense on Wednesday, they said they were not speaking out of anger or a need for vengeance. (Full story)

Their testimony came in muted contrast to the heart-wrenching stories of the families who testified for the government.

They were not permitted to tell the jury their opinions about the death penalty, though their presence suggested they oppose it in this case. None mentioned Moussaoui's name in court.

Instead, they spoke of coping with loss and of honoring the memory of loved ones through scholarships and good deeds.

Reconciliation

"I would like to be a voice for reconciliation in the world," said Alice Hoagland, mother of Mark Bingham, who was among the passengers who attempted to take back United Airlines Flight 93's cockpit from the hijackers. She said it took a while for his death "to sink in."

"I tend to still speak of my son in the present tense. It's hard," she said. Describing the one phone call she had with with her son as the hijacking was under way, Hoagland said the background discussion about taking back the plane sounded like a "calm boardroom meeting."

Her son was flying to San Francisco to attend the wedding of a Muslim friend from Egypt. Since his death, the former flight attendant said she has become an advocate for improved airline security and has sought to understand radical Islam.

Outside of court, Hoagland told CNN why she opposes the death penalty for Moussaoui: "I do not want to see him achieve martyrdom, which he seems to want. We as a compassionate people have a responsibility, a duty, an opportunity now to demonstrate that we have more reverence for life than this man has for life."

She said Moussaoui should be sentenced to "living out his life behind bars safely away from the people that he intends to harm."

Big personality

Jennifer Glick's brother, Jeremy, a national collegiate judo champion, was also among the leaders of the Flight 93 passenger uprising. Glick said her family has started a not-for-profit foundation that helps children participate in sports and perform community service after school.

She told the jury her brother, the third of six children, "was the one with the biggest personality and the leader." She added, "I would like us to remember the goodness he showed we all have inside us."

Andrea LeBlanc's husband, Robert, a geography professor, was aboard United Flight 175, the second plane to crash into the World Trade Center. She told the jury she thought her family was "really weird" compared with others who lost loved ones in the September 11 attacks.

"We don't dwell on 9/11," she said. "There are never angry words or recriminations or vengeance-seeking."

She described her husband's death as "the silent elephant" in the room when she and their five children get together. "There won't be tears, there won't be anger, there'll be lots of stories about Bob," she said.

LeBlanc said her husband traveled the world, always curious about other cultures. She showed a photo of him visiting a temple in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country.

"He didn't think in terms of them and us. He never did," she said. At his memorial service, the head of LeBlanc's department read a verse from the Koran exhorting "tribes and nations" to "know each other, not that you may hate each other."

Firefighter's life recalled

Adele Welty told the jury she doesn't want her son, Tim, one of 343 New York firefighters killed at the trade center, to be remembered as "just a statistic." She testified wearing a copy of his badge on the lapel of her jacket.

Welty said her son never met a tree he didn't want to climb and was so strong he could do pull-ups with two fingers. He was "someone who lived his life to the fullest every day," she said. She now lives on a street named after him.

Blake Allison's wife, Anna, was aboard the first plane that crashed into the trade center. He had taken her to the Boston airport that morning for a business trip to Los Angeles. She was a software consultant.

After a memorial service and taking three weeks off, he went back to work. "I wasn't going to stay home and be crushed down by this," he told the jury.

After an awful first year, Allison ended up commiserating with the widow of a friend who had suddenly died of a heart attack. They married last year.

"Life again, as it did five years ago, is going in a very different direction," Allison said.

No families directly affected by the crash of the plane that hit the Pentagon appeared for the defense.

Moussaoui is the only person tried in this country in connection with the September 11 attacks. The 37-year-old French citizen pleaded guilty to terrorism conspiracy a year ago.

Jurors, who already have held Moussaoui responsible for at least some of the nearly 3,000 deaths on 9/11, will decide whether he should be executed or spend the rest of his life in prison.

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