In their first detailed explanation for seeking the death penalty, federal prosecutors told a court Friday that Unabomber suspect Theodore Kaczynski is a calculating killer whose own writings show he “acted out of a deep-seated hatred of people and society.”
In a pretrial document intended to set forth reasons Kaczynski should be put to death, prosecutors claimed the hatred has persisted and grown throughout the former college professor’s life.
Without providing details, U.S. Attorney Paul Seave also disclosed that at Kaczynski’s murder trial, set to begin Nov. 12, the government will show the one-time mathematician’s “desire to kill preceded his choice of weapons.”
By trying to put Kaczynski on death row, the government is seeking to place him in the same category as some of the decade’s most notorious bombers, such as recently convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. A federal jury in June said McVeigh should be put to death for exploding a truck bomb that killed 168 people.
Seave’s 64-page document also added new details to the portrait that has emerged of the reclusive Kaczynski, who spent many years living by himself in the backwoods of Montana before his arrest in April 1996.
While living in a tiny cabin near the Continental Divide without electricity or running water, for example, the Harvard-educated Kaczynski “drew on his knowledge of chemistry and physics to improvise dozens of bombs and bomb components from scraps of wood and metal, spare hardware and ordinary household products,” Seave said.
Moreover, Seave said, “the defendant’s career as the Unabomber reflects a remarkable stealth and patience; for example, Kaczynski once waited six years between bombings so that he could improve his bomb-making abilities.”
U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. is scheduled to hold a hearing Oct. 24 on the death penalty arguments.
Prosecutors believe Kaczynski is the anti-technology bomber responsible for a string of bombings starting in the 1970s.
In Sacramento, he faces charges in the 1985 death of computer store owner Hugh Scrutton and the 1995 slaying of timber industry lobbyist Gilbert Murray and attacks that injured a University of California, San Francisco, geneticist and a Yale University computer scientist.
A grand jury in Sacramento indicted Kaczynski on 10 counts of illegally transporting, mailing and using bombs. He has pleaded not guilty.
Kaczynski also has been charged in New Jersey in the bombing death of advertising executive Thomas Mosser.
In documents filed last May, the Justice Department said Kaczynski should be put to death if convicted in the deaths of Murray and Mosser. They primarily cited the carefully premeditated nature of the crimes.
But last month Kaczynski’s attorneys sought to overturn the government’s decision, challenging the federal death penalty as unconstitutional.
Prosecutors on Friday dismissed the defense challenge, saying it was without merit and that similar arguments have been rejected repeatedly by other courts.
They also cited several aggravating factors for pursuing the death penalty, including Kaczynski’s alleged lack of remorse and their contention that he is a continuing danger to the public.
In buttressing their argument, prosecutors said Friday that more than a year ago, they provided Kaczynski’s lawyers with written notice of 16 bombings they attributed to him.
Further, Seave said, the government has sketched out details for the defense of “numerous other acts of violence and vandalism attributed to him over a 25-year period.” But prosecutors did not shed further light on the comment.
Prosecutors also cited stacks of documents found in Kaczynski’s cabin and seized by authorities.
They said Kaczynski’s own handwritten documents will form a central part of the case against him.
In another development Friday, Burrell ordered that the identities of jurors in the case - like those at McVeigh’s recent trial - will remain anonymous until after Kaczynski’s trial has ended.