[JURIST] Jury members in the Moussaoui sentencing trial [JURIST news archive; case docket] recommended a life sentence [JURIST report] for convicted Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui because several jurors believed that Moussaoui only played a minor role in the plot and there were questions about whether the death penalty [JURIST news archive] is an appropriate punishment for lying, according to a report in Friday's Washington Post. Moussaoui pleaded guilty [JURIST report] last year to conspiracy charges [indictment] in connection with the Sept. 11 terror attacks [JURIST news archive] and US District Judge Leonie Brinkema on Thursday sentenced Moussaoui to life in prison without the possibility of release [JURIST report]. One of the jurors, speaking anonymously to the Washington Post, said Thursday that he believed that Moussaoui exaggerated his role in the terror plot and that Moussaoui's testimony [JURIST report] that he and "shoe bomber" Richard Reid were meant to fly a fifth plane into the White House was a lie.
The sentencing trial was divided into two phases. During the first phase, jurors decided that Moussaoui was eligible for the death penalty [JURIST report], and the juror told the Post that this conclusion was reached because the jury believed the government's argument that FBI investigators would have discovered the plot had Moussaoui not lied when he was questioned in August 2001. Several jurors, however, were not in favor of sentencing Moussaoui to death during the second phase of the trial because they believed that Moussaoui had "limited knowledge" [verdict form, PDF] of the plans for September 11. The juror did not reveal how many jurors would have voted for the death penalty. Reuters has more.