Victims' Kin Take Stand For Moussaoui

generic Artist rendering shows Zacarias Moussaoui court gavel
Two relatives of Sept. 11 attack victims testified for the defense Wednesday in Zacarias Moussaoui's sentencing trial. One told the jury her family does not want to "get caught in a whirlpool of sadness and anger."

Medical sociologist Marilynn Rosenthal, whose son Josh was killed at the World Trade Center, said her family feels strongly "something good has to come out of what happened" and they have endowed an annual Sept. 11 lecture at the University of Michigan, where she teaches. Robin Theurkauf, whose husband, Tom, died in the South Tower, also testified that "the Bible attempts to explain that we are all sinners, all broken people, but all children of God and loved by God."

Several members of the jury, which heard heart-rending tales during the prosecution case from almost four dozen victims and their relatives, leaned forward when they realized relatives were there to testify on behalf of the team trying to save the 37-year-old Frenchman from execution.

Earlier a second defense expert to diagnose Mouossaoui as a paranoid schizophrenic testified that his mental illness probably afflicted him throughout his time as an al Qaeda operative.

Psychiatrist Michael First, who edits the diagnostic manual used by the psychiatric profession, described for jurors how Moussaoui's mental illness apparently affected his ability to function within al Qaeda and his ability to prepare a defense for his death penalty trial.

First said Moussaoui's schizophrenia manifests through paranoid delusions and through disorganized thought and speech.

He said this is consistent with earlier trial testimony that al Qaeda leaders considered Moussaoui paranoid and even "cuckoo," and he was unable to follow basic orders like to minimize phone contact with others in al Qaeda. Sept. 11, 2001, mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed said in a written summary given to jurors that he wanted to dismiss Moussaoui from the planned hijacking operations altogether.

The illness also has affected Moussaoui's ability to defend himself at trial. Specifically, his delusion, fueled by a dream, that President George W. Bush will free him from prison, has left him indifferent to what the jury thinks of him.

"It has allowed him to act in a way that is self-defeating and harmful," First said, referencing the two times Moussaoui has taken the stand in self-defense and done his case far more harm than good.

First is the second defense expert to conclude Moussaoui is a schizophrenic, but First was able to relate Moussaoui's illness more clearly to his often bizarre and self-defeating actions.

Because defense testimony has slowed considerably, CBS News reports the case won't go to the jury this week. But closing arguments expected as soon as Monday.

Also on Wednesday, an expert on cults testified that Moussaoui's isolation from family and social support networks left him vulnerable to recruitment by the terror network.

Psychologist Paul R. Martin, a former cult member who now runs a treatment center for cult victims in Albany, Ohio, said French Moroccans like Moussaoui generally feel alienated from Western society and his state of mind suffered even more when he left France in 1992 to study international business in London.