Unabomber Victims Still Anguished
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ Dr. Charles Epstein gently laid his mangled hand on the shoulder of a fellow Unabomber victim, seconds after a judge sentenced Theodore Kaczynski to spend four lifetimes in prison.
``It’s all over,″ Epstein said softly to a tearful Jan Tuck, sister of slain timber lobbyist Gilbert Murray.
Only minutes before, Epstein _ a geneticist working on Down syndrome in children when he opened a package bomb _ had stared into Kaczynski’s eyes and called the 55-year-old former math professor a coward.
He ridiculed Kaczynski for agreeing to a plea bargain rather than going ahead with a trial that would have served as a forum for his anti-technology creed. It also could have ended with a death sentence.
``In the end you showed you would rather save your life than risk your neck for the cause you say you believe in,″ Epstein said Monday.
The sentencing was never in doubt: U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell Jr. gave Kaczynski four life sentences plus 30 years, as set out in a plea bargain reached in January. The plea spared him the chance of a death penalty and a trial in which his lawyers planned to portray him, against his will, as deranged.
Given a chance to address the court, Kaczynski, the man whose 35,000-word manifesto against the evils of technology filled eight newspaper pages, briefly complained that the government put false and misleading statements in its sentencing memo.
In that memo, released last week, the government said Kaczynski wrote in his journal that his ``motive for doing what I am going to do is simply personal revenge.″
But in court, he said he would explain his motives later. Until then, he said in a high-pitched nasal voice, ``I ask only that people reserve judgment on me and the Unabomber case.″
The Unabomber, so named because he targeted university professors and airlines as well as others in an anti-technology terrorist campaign, killed three men and injured 29 others in 16 attacks between 1978 and 1995.
The attacks ended with Kaczynski’s capture at his Montana shack in April 1996. He was caught after his brother notified the FBI that Kaczynski’s letters bore a resemblance to the Unabomber manifesto published under pressure in The Washington Post and The New York Times.
The plea bargain covered the three deaths and the maimings of two scientists. As part of the plea bargain, Kaczynski acknowledged responsibility for all Unabomber attacks.
He will be sent to a high-security federal prison, possibly in Lompoc or in Colorado.
``The defendant committed unspeakable and monstrous crimes for which he shows utterly no remorse,″ Burrell said, adding that he feared Kaczynski would try to kill again if not closely watched.
He called Kaczynski’s crimes ``vicious acts of terrorism.″
Before Burrell spoke, six Unabomber survivors came forward to present a tableaux of grief, pain and anger which held the jammed courtroom spellbound. Most of them sat in the witness box face to face with the man they addressed as ``Ted″ and denounced as the personification of evil.
Angriest was Susan Mosser, whose husband, advertising executive Thomas Mosser, died on Dec. 10, 1994, in an explosion of nails and razor blades just a few feet from where she was playing with their daughter Kelly, then 15 months old.
``Lock him so far down that when he dies he’ll be closer to hell where the devil belongs,″ she told the judge.
Kelly _ whose baby blanket Susan Mosser had wrapped around her dying husband _ came in and sat on her mother’s lap as the judge pronounced sentence.
``I lost my innocence to this man, and I fight daily to find the carefree happiness ... that was taken from me,″ sobbed Gary Wright, who suffered permanent physical injuries from a bomb he opened in 1987 in Salt Lake City. He still finds shards of shrapnel in his skin.
David Gelernter, a Yale University computer scientist who lost part of a hand, sent a written statement in which he said Kaczynski should have been put to death.
He and other victims praised Kaczynski’s brother, David, for going to authorities. Theodore never looked at his brother.
Nick Suino, injured by a Unabomber package in 1985, said he didn’t wish Kaczynski dead but wouldn’t have ``shed a single tear″ at his execution. He had advice for the victims and families who filled three rows of the courtroom.
``Revenge is an illusion,″ he said. ``It is a dark flame that consumes you. ... Put revenge behind you and embrace the goodness of life.″
When it was over, David Kaczynski stood outside the courthouse and offered the regrets his brother would not. In an interview broadcast this morning on the ``Today″ show, he said the sentence given to his brother was just.
``The victims need to know that Ted will never be in a position to hurt anyone again,″ he said.
Still, David Kaczynski refused to characterize his brother as an evil person, saying his brother ``clearly is not a rational person.″
``I think that Ted, in his emotional core, had no capacity to heal, and as time went on, he began to believe that there was a conspiracy, that society was injuring him, and he needed to defend himself,″ he said.
He also said he did not regret alerting authorities to his brother, even though Theodore Kaczynski has refused to have any more contact with his family as a result.
``It wouldn’t have been right to allow him to hurt anyone else,″ David Kaczynski said.