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Two of the jurors who convicted four men of the terrorist conspiracy surrounding the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa said at the sentencing Thursday that the most difficult part of deliberations concerned the death penalty. After returning to the Southern District of New York courtroom to witness the four men be sentenced to life in prison, the jurors, both middle-aged women who were serving on a panel for the first time, said the jury was remarkably united until they were asked to weigh capital punishment for Mohamed Rashed Daoud Al-’Owhali and Khalfan Khamis Mohamed. Speaking on condition of anonymity, Juror No. 2 said she entered the deliberating room with an open mind after the close of evidence in the first death penalty phase, Al-’Owhali’s, but soon became convinced that the death penalty was warranted. “There was a lot of back and forth, some people were for capital punishment, some undecided, and there were some that were against it,” she said. “Some people argued that life in prison would be more of a punishment than the death penalty, but other people presented the counterargument that they would really be happy being in a cell where no one would bother them and they would get three square meals a day.” But the mood changed, Juror No. 2 said, after Al-’Owhali was spared the death penalty, and the jury, after hearing evidence in Mohamed’s case, once again returned to the deliberating room. “The second one was worse because of the tension that developed in the first penalty phase,” she said. “Some jurors didn’t want to come back.” Juror No. 7 also voted for the death penalty for Al-’Owhali and Mohamed. “The toughest part came during the death penalty phase,” she said. “We wrestled with mitigating factors brought up by some of the jurors and we discussed them ad nauseum.” Both jurors said they were confused by the amount of weight to give different factors in deciding whether to impose capital punishment. In its deliberations, the jury was charged with considering “gateway factors” supporting the death penalty, such as the intentional killing of victims, and “statutory aggravating factors,” such as killing more than one person in a single episode. It then turned to “nonstatutory aggravating factors,” such as the specific circumstances of the case and the intention of the defendant. Finally, they considered factors that mitigate against death, such as whether killing Al-’Owhali would only make him a martyr, or whether life imprisonment was a greater punishment than death. “I think it’s the charge that makes it so hard,” said Juror No. 2. “Even with the statutory and nonstatutory aggravating factors and the mitigating factors, there is no set weight to give to each one. Just because we decided whether there was a mitigating factor, we didn’t know how to weigh it.” Juror No. 2 said her conversion from undecided to voting for the death penalty was not an easy one. “People don’t understand how wrenching it is to sit on a death penalty case,” she said. “You have to explore your core values and beliefs and reconcile them with the crimes that were committed. If I sat on another death case 10 years from now, I honestly don’t know what I would do.” Juror No. 7 said the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center made her “frightened” and even more conscious of her role in deciding the fate of accused terrorists. “I was very angry, knowing what I know about al Qaeda,” the terrorist organization, she said. “It was like [prosecutor Patrick] Fitzgerald was working on a gigantic, 10,000-word jigsaw puzzle, working from the frame and bringing it all to the center,” Juror No. 2 said. “It wasn’t only the specific charges and these defendants. It was as if he was trying to set the stage for an international racketeering trial against al Qaeda.”

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