WASHINGTON – Prosecutors concluded their argument Thursday that Zacarias Moussaoui is eligible for the death penalty, and the al-Qaida operative made it clear in his typically theatrical style that he intends to take the stand.
“I will testify, whether you want it or not!” Moussaoui yelled as he was escorted from the courtroom by federal marshals. “I will testify!”
It was unclear whether he was addressing his lawyers, with whom he does not speak and who have been against his taking the stand. But what was clear was that the case against the only person convicted in the United States on charges stemming from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks could take yet another dramatic turn. Moussaoui is known for his courtroom outbursts, and even his own lawyers don’t know what he will say. Sources familiar with the case said Moussaoui is expected to testify, but he has been told he must adhere to conventional courtroom decorum.
The courtroom theatrics came as Moussaoui’s lawyers subpoenaed a government lawyer whose misconduct nearly derailed the death penalty trial, sources familiar with the case said Thursday. Carla Martin has been told to show up Monday at U.S. District Court in suburban Alexandria, Va., the sources said.
Martin would risk being found in contempt of court if she ignored the order, but once there could invoke her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refuse to testify. She declined to testify at a hearing last week. Her lawyer, Roscoe Howard Jr., did not return repeated telephone calls. Defense lawyers would not comment, but legal experts said that it is unlikely they could persuade U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema to allow the jury to hear about what she labeled Martin’s “egregious” conduct.
The actions of Martin, a Transportation Security Administration lawyer, halted the case last week after she violated a court order by sharing testimony and contacting witnesses.
Brinkema initially reacted by barring all aviation witnesses and testimony, an action that severely damaged the prosecution’s case.