Jury: Murderer of CIA workers deserves death
November 14, 1997
Web posted at: 7:45 p.m. EST (0045 GMT)
FAIRFAX, Virginia (CNN) -- A Virginia jury has recommended the death penalty for a Pakistani national who went on a shooting rampage outside CIA headquarters in 1993.
Mir Aimal Kasi, 33, was convicted Monday of two counts of murder and three counts of malicious wounding for shooting two CIA employees and wounding three others with an assault rifle. After less than seven hours of deliberation, the jury recommended Friday that Kasi be executed for one of those two murders.
While the final sentencing decision is up to the judge, jury recommendations in Virginia capital punishment cases are usually followed. Sentencing was scheduled for January 23.
If Kasi is sentenced to death, an appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court is automatic, and it would be likely be four to six years for an execution could take place.
Kasi showed no emotion as the verdict was read. One of his attorneys, Judith Barger, leaned over and rubbed his back afterward.
Both Kasi's brother, Mir Weis Kasi, and Judy Darling, the widow of one of the victims, were in tears as the sentence was read.
Jurors had already recommended a life sentence on the other murder charge, 20 years for each malicious wounding count and 18 years for five firearms charges.
Kasi was charged with capital murder only in connection with the murder of 28-year-old Frank Darling because Kasi first wounded him then returned and shot him in the head, killing him.
The other murder victim was Lansing Bennett, 66. Both he and Darling were CIA analysts.
According to testimony in the trial, Kasi confessed to federal agents that he had gone on the shooting rampage in January 1993 to avenge what he saw as American mistreatment of Muslims around the world. He also said the his only regret was that he didn't die in a shoot-out while being apprehended.
"That's definitely a powerful piece of evidence. I'm sure it had a lot to do with the verdict," said prosecutor Robert Horan.
Kasi walked from car to car shooting commuters as they were stopped during morning rush hour outside CIA headquarters in the Virginia suburbs of Washington.
He fled the country after the shootings. After a worldwide manhunt, Kasi was captured in Pakistan and returned to the United States to stand trial.
The defense had argued that Kasi should be spared because brain damage he suffered as a baby left him unable to appreciate his actions.
But prosecutors portrayed him as a remorseless killer who was proud of what he had done.
The jury was sequestered Wednesday after four American oil workers were slain in Karachi, Pakistan. A group sympathetic to Kasi claimed responsibility for those slayings and vowed more violence if Kasi was sentenced to die.
But U.S. embassy officials in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, have downplayed that claim, saying it cannot be substantiated. Pakistan's interior minister, Chaudhry Shujaat, also played down any possible link.
Even before the murders in Karachi, there were fears about the possibility of violence in connection with Kasi's trial. Fairfax County, where the trial was held, spent about $1 million on additional security measures at its court complex.
After returning their guilty verdicts Monday, the jury sent a note to Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge J. Howe Brown saying they feared for their safety.
In an effort to protect them, the judge ordered that jurors' identities be permanently sealed. After Friday's sentencing deliberations, reporters were ordered by the judge not to try to interview jurors, photograph their faces or publish their names.
Correspondent Carl Rochelle contributed to this report.