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'Aggravating' stumps Moussaoui juror

Judge admonishes panel after juror turns to dictionary

From Phil Hirschkorn and Carol Cratty
CNN

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Zacarias Moussaoui is the only person to be tried in the U.S. in connection with the 9/11 attacks.

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ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (CNN) -- The jury in the sentencing trial of al Qaeda plotter Zacarias Moussaoui completed four days of deliberations without reaching a verdict and will return to the courthouse Monday.

The nine men and three women, who are not sequestered, have deliberated more than 21 hours since receiving the case Monday.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema reminded jurors to avoid looking up words in the dictionary after learning a juror researched the definition of "aggravating."

The jury is balancing "aggravating" and "mitigating" factors to determine whether Moussaoui should be executed or spend the rest of his life in prison for his role in the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Deliberations resumed Friday after a day's interruption because of a juror's illness.

Brinkema told jurors, "The word 'aggravating' essentially means to make something worse." She advised, "Do not hesitate to ask questions if you have any. If you have a question, we are here to help."

After jurors left the courtroom, the defendant said, "Moussaoui, aggravating curse on America."

Brinkema had denied the jury's request for a dictionary Tuesday, and jurors never asked for any definitions.

Jurors have surpassed the 17 hours they spent deciding in the trial's first phase that Moussaoui was eligible for the death penalty.

They reached that decision by finding that at least one of the 2,973 deaths on September 11 occurred as a "direct result" of Moussaoui's lies to investigators after his arrest a month before the attacks.

In the first phase, the verdict form had four questions to answer. The current form requires jurors to address 33 aggravating and mitigating factors before answering the final question determining Moussaoui's punishment.

Moussaoui, 37, an admitted al Qaeda operative, testified he was training to pilot a hijacked passenger jet into the White House on September 11 and that he knew the World Trade Center was targeted.

Moussaoui told jurors he felt "no regret, no remorse" for the deaths and mocked victims' family members who spoke emotionally about their losses.

Defense attorneys contended Moussaoui should not be executed because he was a minor player in the conspiracy and was behind bars September 11.

The defense argued that executing Moussaoui would make him a martyr for al Qaeda.

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