ALEXANDRIA, Va. –A New Hampshire woman whose husband died aboard United Airlines Flight 175 on Sept. 11, 2001, was a defense witness Thursday in the death-penalty trial of Zacarias Moussaoui.
Testimony from Andrea LeBlanc of Durham, N.H., and other relatives of victims was meant to counter the emotional punch of nearly four dozen witnesses who gave heartbreaking testimony for prosecutors about the impact of the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.
LeBlanc lost her husband, Robert, a retired University of New Hampshire geography professor, on the United Airlines plane that struck the second of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York.
In court, she said she recalled watching TV when that plane hit, finding out hours later her husband was on it, and the pain of having to tell her kids. "To their credit, they’re all their father’s children," said LeBlanc, an opponent of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. "There’s never angry words, no recrimination or vengeance-seeking."
In 2002, LeBlanc had joined a group called September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, a national group of survivors of the attacks and relatives that thinks the U.S. response to terrorism only will provoke more attacks.
"It’s going to make it easier to recruit new terrorists," she said in a 2003 interview. "It makes me sad that the human race hasn’t figured out that aggression isn’t the way to create peace in the world."
Court rules prohibited witnesses on either side from opining on the choice jurors will face when deliberations begin next week — whether Moussaoui should get the death penalty or life in prison.
But the defense witnesses left the unmistakable message that they opposed execution for Moussaoui, as they talked about how they have devoted their lives to reconciliation rather than vengeance.
Moussaoui is the only person charged in this country in the attacks. The jury deciding his fate has already declared him eligible for the death penalty by determining that his actions caused at least one death on Sept. 11.