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S P E C I A L The Unabomb Case
San Francisco Bureau Chief Greg Lefevre has covered the Unabomb story since the early 1980s. These are some of his observations.

Musings on a trial cut short

January 23, 1998
Web posted at: 10:54 p.m. EST (0354 GMT)
Kaczynski trial graphic

From San Francisco Bureau Chief Greg Lefevre

SACRAMENTO, California (CNN) -- The four-month Unabomb trial never happens. The enigmatic Mr. Kaczynski quietly goes off to jail forever. And the shattered families he left behind try to pick up the pieces. Many here believe a negotiated plea never really brings closure.

The widow of Ted Kaczynski's last victim said the Unabomber manipulated the system right up to the end.

Gov. Pete Wilson said Californians should feel cheated that Kaczynski did not suffer the same fate as his three murdered victims.

In the end, Kaczynski's attorneys quietly slipped out the back door of the courthouse. Heroes or heels? They came to town to save their client's life and accomplished just that.

Kaczynski's new occupation? Inmate, your honor.

A model prisoner

David and Wanda Kaczynski
Kaczynski's brother David and mother Wanda   

In jail he was always polite, sometimes chatting to himself. Jailers said Kaczynski never gave them any grief.

One anecdote: As he was being taken from the court in a jail van, another inmate traveling with him began shouting and cursing the officer in front. Kaczynski turned to the inmate and said, "Shhh. You'll get us in trouble."

This from a man who'd murdered three people and faced the death penalty.

He said he wanted to be his own lawyer at his trial, and on several occasions consulted the jail's law library.

What about the cabin?

Kaczynski's Montana cabin
Kaczynski's Montana cabin, which was taken to Sacramento for trial evidence   

The cabin sits on the outskirts of town, stashed away in a warehouse at a former Air Force base. Its presence was to be a symbol of Kaczynski's dementia. Now it's meaningless. A hollow shell, haunted perhaps by the ghosts of the diabolical plots hatched therein.

What of the mountain of evidence -- diaries, books, journals? Who gets to keep his practice bomb?

Camp Ted

The media created a huge news center in the parking lot across from the courthouse.

Trailers, some of them double-wide, clogged the lot. Networks also rented suites in an office tower next door. Reporters set up tents under the trees to shield themselves from the rain ... and from the crows, millions of crows, that lived in the branches.

We called it Camp Ted. Perhaps it should have been named Camp Hugh or Camp Gil to honor the two Sacramento men Kaczynski murdered.

The jury goes home

What about the jurors who put their lives on hold for four months?

They've gone back home or to their jobs, denied their chance to witness and create justice. Or are they relieved that they will not have to vote on whether another human being lives or dies.

Me? There's plenty to do. Stories on hold, shoved aside by the need to cover Ted. ... And golf swings that need work.

The Unabomb Trial

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