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Giuliani, witnesses testify of horrors of September 11

Written by: Staff

ALEXANDRIA, Va, Apr 6 (Reuters) Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani described watching desperate people leap to their deaths from the burning World Trade Center in emotional testimony today to a jury that will determine if September 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui should die.

Some spectators, including anguished relatives of the September 11 victims, sobbed as they listened to graphic eyewitness accounts of the moments after hijacked planes plunged into the skyscrapers. Video clips of people jumping from the flaming towers and gruesome images of body parts drew audible gasps.

''I saw several people, I can't remember how many, jumping,'' Giuliani said. ''There were two people right near each other. It appeared to me they were holding hands.

''Of the many memories, that's one that comes to me every day.'' Relatives wiped tears from their eyes as they listened to a New York City fireman recount how his colleague and best friend, Danny Suhr, died after being hit by a falling body.

The courtroom fell silent watching video footage of the twin towers collapsing in Manhattan on September 11.

Moussaoui alternated between smiling and nodding as he watched the video clips. After the jury and judge were gone for the morning break he sang out ''Burn in the USA!'' -- an apparent takeoff of the Bruce Springsteen song ''Born in the USA.'' Moussaoui, an admitted al Qaeda member and the only person charged in the United States in connection with the September 11 attacks, has pleaded guilty to six counts of conspiracy. Three of the charges carry the death penalty.

On Monday, the jury found Moussaoui was eligible for the death penalty. In this final phase of the sentencing trial, jurors will decide if Moussaoui should be sentenced to death or life in prison.

'PARTS OF HUMAN BODIES' The jurors began hearing testimony from some of the dozens of family members of people who died in the hijackings. They spoke of how the events of September 11 changed their lives and that of their families.

A New York City policeman was reduced to tears on the witness stand as he spoke of how much his daughter will miss his wife, also a police officer, who died evacuating people from the World Trade Center.

Giuliani, who won high praise for his handling of the September 11 crisis, was the day's first witness. Sitting next to scale models of the World Trade Center, he described where he was and what he felt on Sept. 11.

''It was horrid,'' he said, describing the site of the twin towers after they collapsed. ''The worst thing I've ever seen in my whole life ... parts of human bodies ... hands or legs.'' Tamar Rosbrook, who was visiting New York with her husband on Sept. 11, sobbed as she described her view from the 35th floor of a hotel adjacent to the towers.

Rosbrook narrated a video her husband shot, saying people appeared to be jumping in the direction of a canopy, perhaps in the hope it would break their fall.

''Sometimes they would jump in groups of two. Sometimes they would jump in groups of three,'' she said through tears. When she finally left the hotel, she could hear a chirping sound all around -- the sound given off by a fireman's alarm when he is no longer moving.

Calling September 11, 2001, ''the darkest day in American history,'' federal prosecutor Robert Spencer urged jurors to sentence Moussaoui to death for his part in the disaster.

But Gerald Zerkin, one of Moussaoui's court-appointed lawyers, urged jurors to keep an open mind and listen to evidence that the defendant had a mental illness that caused him to be involved in the conspiracy.

Reuters PG VP0352

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