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Jury Decides Pakistani Gunman Should Get Death Penalty for Shooting Rampage That Killed Two

November 14, 1997

Jury Decides Pakistani Gunman Should Get Death Penalty for Shooting Rampage That Killed Two Outside CIA’s Virginia Headquarters

The decision came two days after four American oil company auditors were shot to death in Karachi, Pakistan, in an ambush police said was apparently retaliation for the conviction on Monday of Mir Aimal Kasi. A group that claimed responsibility for the killings promised more attacks if Kasi was sentenced to death.

The judge decided to sequester the jurors after the killings to keep them from learning about them.

They were kept under armed guard.

The jury had the choice of the death penalty or life in prison. Its decision in favor of the death penalty is only a recommendation, but Virginia judges generally abide by such decisions.

It took the panel less than seven hours. Kasi showed no emotion as the verdict was read. One of his lawyers, Judith Barger, leaned over and rubbed Kasi’s back.

Kasi, 33, was found guilty of murdering CIA communications analyst Frank Darling to death in a rampage outside the spy agency headquarters on Jan. 25, 1993.

He was charged with capital murder only in connection with Darling’s death, in part because of evidence Kasi first wounded Darling, then came back to the car and shot the helpless man in the head as Darling’s wife cowered beside him.

The close-range shot with a high-powered AK-47 assault rifle blew part of Darling’s head off.

In their closing arguments Thursday, the defense portrayed Kasi as a brain-damaged loner whose rampage was senseless, while the prosecution said he was a merciless, politically driven killer.

Defense lawyer Judith Barger argued that Kasi should get life in prison because he has never functioned normally, having suffered brain damage at or near birth.

``I’m not asking for leniency. I’m asking for life in prison. I’m asking you to impose one of the harshest sentences the law allows,″ Ms. Barger said.

Prosecutor Robert F. Horan said the brain damage argument was a myth. He argued that Kasi killed in anger over U.S. treatment of Muslims and showed no remorse for the killings.

``He is proud of it. He set out on a mission to kill people and he accomplished it. It doesn’t bother him,″ Horan said.

According to testimony, Kasi made several confessions, each time saying the killings were in vengeance for American meddling in Muslim countries. Kasi did not testify during his trial.

``It’s hard to find a man who is less unhappy about what he did than this man,″ Horan said. ``He doesn’t have an ounce of sorrow for having killed Frank Darling, not an ounce.″

After returning the verdict on Monday, jurors sent a note to the judge expressing fear for their safety. The note came to light in court on Wednesday after the slayings of the four U.S. businessmen.

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