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Kaczynski gets life, says government lied

Unabomber, victims speak in court before sentencing

May 4, 1998
Web posted at: 6:40 p.m. EDT (2240 GMT)

In this story:

SACRAMENTO, California (CNN) -- Sentenced on Monday to spend the rest of his life in prison, convicted Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski said the federal government misrepresented him as a vengeful loner. But there was no sympathy from victims and their families who, along with Kaczynski, were allowed to address the court before sentencing.

Susan Mosser, who lost her husband in a Unabomber attack, urged U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell Jr. to "make the sentence bullet-proof, or bomb-proof, lock him so far down that when he does die, he'll be closer to hell. That's where the devil belongs."

In a short statement, Kaczynski said a government report, filed last week, was "clearly political" and meant to discredit him. In reality, he said, the report discredits the government.

As Kaczynski began to speak, the family of the last Unabomber victim to die, Sacramento timber lobbyist Gilbert Murray, stood up and walked out of the courtroom en masse. Some of them returned when Kaczynski finished.

"I walked out because there is nothing that he could say that I was willing to hear," Murray's widow said in a statement. "He has no concept or understanding of what he has done."

Mrs. Murray said she was "moved" by what other Unabomb survivors and their families said in court.

David Kaczynski
David Kaczynski apologizes to the victims and their families   

Apology from Kaczynski's brother

Burrell sentenced Kaczynski under a plea bargain agreement that called for him to receive four consecutive life terms without parole plus 30 years.

"The defendant committed unspeakable and monstrous crimes for which he shows utterly no remorse," Burrell said.

The sentence was Kaczynski's punishment for three fatal bombings, as well as two other attacks that injured two scientists.

Afterward, Kaczynski's brother, David, offered his family's "deepest apologies" to the victims and their families. "We are very, very sorry," he told reporters outside the federal courthouse in Sacramento.icon 238K/39 sec. AIFF or WAV sound

Asked if he had seen his brother, he said, "He doesn't want to see me."

Prosecutor Robert Cleary called Unabomber victims and their families an "inspiration." icon 349K/21 sec. AIFF or WAV sound

As part of the plea bargain, which saved Kaczynski from a trial and possible death by lethal injection, he acknowledged responsibility for all 16 Unabomber attacks between 1978 and 1995.

The 55-year-old former math professor will be sent to a high-security federal prison, possibly in Lompoc, California, or in Colorado. Burrell said he feared Kaczynski would try to kill again if not closely watched.

"Because of these vicious acts of terrorism and because of the callous nature of the crimes, Theodore Kaczynski poses a grave danger to society and should be sent to a facility where he can be closely monitored," Burrell said.

"I hoped that the victim would be blinded or have his hands blow off or otherwise maimed ..." reads one excerpt from journals found in Kaczynski's cabin   

Kaczynski: Government made 'false statements'

Last week's government report, called a sentencing memorandum, quotes extensively from Kaczynski's journals, in which he wrote of a deep hatred of people.

In his published 30,000-word treatise known as the Unabomber Manifesto, Kaczynski claimed a moral high ground for his bombing campaign, justifying the attacks in the name of preserving humanity and nature from the relentless onslaught of technology and exploitation.

But in his journals, the government said, Kaczynski scoffed at environmental ideals.

The journals, found by FBI investigators in his Montana mountain cabin, revealed a cynical, apparently sexually confused killer who delighted in his deadly explosions and cared little for the outside world.

"I believe in nothing," Kaczynski wrote. "I don't even believe in the cult of nature-worshipers or wilderness-worshipers. (I am perfectly ready to litter in parts of the woods that are of no use to me -- I often throw cans in logged-over areas.)"

Of his killings, Kaczynski wrote: "My motive for doing what I am going to do is simply personal revenge."

Montana cabin
In Kaczynski's Montana cabin, authorities found a fully armed bomb wrapped in an unaddressed package   

But speaking in a high-pitched voice, Kaczynski said the sentencing memo contained "false statements, misleading statements."

"By discrediting me personally, they hope to discredit my political ideas," he said.

Kaczynski asked people to reserve their judgment about him and the Unabomb case until he has had a chance to respond. He said he would reply to the government filing later, at length.

Since his brother David's tip led to Kaczynski's arrest in April 1996, the family has claimed the writings were that of a paranoid schizophrenic, not a cold-blooded killer.

In January a federal prison psychiatrist agreed, opening the way for prosecutors to drop their demand for the death sentence and allow the plea bargain.

Victims speak in court

After Kaczynski spoke, some of his victims and their loved ones addressed the court:

First to speak was Mosser. Her husband, Thomas, a New Jersey advertising executive, was killed by a package bomb in 1994.

She ticked off a list of household items -- batteries, razor blades, pipes, nails -- that were turned into deadly weapons by the Unabomber's hands. "Hold it in your hand when it is exploding and you have unbearable pain," she said.

Speaking above occasional sobs in the courtroom, Mrs. Mosser told how her 15-month-old daughter Kelly had watched her father bleed. "No, no, no, not my Daddy!" the little girl had cried.

Geneticist Charles Epstein, who was maimed by the Unabomber in 1993, scoffed at Kaczynski's claim of the moral high ground. Kaczynski must not have believed too strongly in his anti-technology campaign, if he was unwilling to risk the death penalty by going to trial, he said.

"You saved your own neck. ... But you did everything, and more, and you did it in cold blood," Epstein said.

But Nicklaus Suino, who was injured by a package bomb as a Michigan graduate student in 1985, said he felt sorry for Kaczynski because the bomber had become the thing he most feared: "an empty machine, devoid of conscience."

"Imagine being so isolated from the human race as he is," Suino said. "He has nobody and nothing now, except for his writing."


The Unabomb Special Section
Kaczynski Profile   |   Evidence Bin   |   Unabomber's Trail   |   Read the Manifesto

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