A Vanderbilt professor who specializes in death penalty cases is available as a source for the coming trial of professed 9/11 “mastermind” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others implicated in the nation’s deadliest terrorist attack.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said he wants prosecutors to seek the death penalty for all five suspects. They will be brought from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to New York to face trial just blocks from the World Trade Center site where 3,000 people died.
“If other trials of this type are any guide, the trial judge in the New York case will have a hard time keeping the proceedings from becoming a circus,” said Christopher Slobogin, Milton Underwood Professor of Law at Vanderbilt University Law School.
“The jury and the American public are not going to like what they hear from the defendants. But the value of showing the world our commitment to justice by trying in open court the admitted mastermind of the worst domestic attack this country has ever experienced may be worth it,” he said.
Slobogin, who said the death penalty is a likely sentence should Mohammed be convicted, chaired the task force that investigated Florida’s death penalty system, where more than 20 people have been released from death row as a result of court rulings or dismissal of charges. He can provide insight into the purposes behind the death penalty, the multiple ways in which the system can malfunction, and statistics about its use. He is not against the death penalty in principle, but has grave doubts about the government’s ability to implement it fairly.
The jury selection process alone is expected to be lengthy in the 9/11 trial. The case is not expected to go to trial until the spring.
Media contact: Jennifer Johnston (615) 322-NEWS