Verdict reached in Moussaoui sentencing trial

A federal jury reached a verdict Wednesday on whether al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui deserves execution or life in prison for his role in the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history, on Sept. 11, 2001.

On the seventh day of deliberation, the jury of nine men and three women informed Judge Leonie Brinkema that it had reached a decision. The verdict was to be announced at 4:30 p.m. EDT. (2030GMT)

Moussaoui, a 37-year-old Frenchman of Moroccan descent, is the only person charged in this country in connection with the suicide jetliner hijackings that killed nearly 3,000 people at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field.

The verdict in the death penalty phase of the case involving the 37-year-old French citizen of Moroccan origin came after four years of legal maneuvering and a six-week trial that put jurors on an emotional roller coaster.

The panel of northern Virginia residents was shown gruesome never-before-released images of the carnage that day, heard the first public playing of the cockpit recorder from United Flight 93 whose passengers tried to retake the jet over Pennsylvania, and watched and listened as dozens of victims and relatives described the horrors and losses they had endured in the attacks in New York and Washington.

The nine men and three women deliberated about 40 hours. They had found Moussaoui eligible for execution after more than 16 hours of deliberations in late March and early April.

Although he was in jail on immigration violations on Sept. 11, the jury ruled that lies he told federal agents the month before the attacks kept the U.S. government from identifying and stopping some of the hijackers, reports AP.

O.Ch.