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9/11 Death Penalty Trial Delayed

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The death penalty trial of Zacarias Moussaoui will be delayed a month as lawyers for the government and the admitted al Qaeda conspirator battle over classified information in the case.

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema said that the original Jan. 9, 2006, date for the start of jury selection would be moved back to Feb. 6. Final selection of the jury and opening statements in the case have been rescheduled for March 6. The jury will decide whether Moussaoui, a French citizen, is to be sentenced to life imprisonment or death.

Selection of 18 jurors from the slate of 500 potential jurors is scheduled to be completed by March 3.

In April, Moussaoui pleaded guilty to conspiring with the Sept. 11 hijackers to kill Americans and declared that Osama bin Laden had personally chosen him to fly a plane into the White House in a later attack.

The government wants to use a Port Authority detective, James Wheeler, to summarize all the carnage that occurred on 9/11 at the World Trade Center, CBS News reports. Also, the government wanted to use digital images of more than 2,800 victims of the attack. But Brinkema denied the motion, saying the photos are not relevant to the first phase of the trial.

Brinkema said that both the government and Moussaoui's lawyers agree about the complex nature of the evidence, much of it classified, and the need to finalize written substitutions for the live testimony of certain witnesses.

Moussaoui's lawyers requested the one-month extension and the government did not object, Brinkema said in her order Monday.

Federal prosecutors say Moussaoui's failure to tell the FBI what he knew resulted in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Moussaoui's lawyers say the U.S. government had a substantial amount of evidence about the impending attacks, yet failed to stop them.

Earlier, during a closed hearing in October, Brinkema said "we are not going to have any slippage of the trial date," but she indeed granted a month-long delay.