Poll finds broad support among New Yorkers for death penalty in Khalid Shaikh Mohammed terror case


Poll finds broad support among New Yorkers for death penalty in Khalid Shaikh Mohammed terror case


Sunday, November 22nd 2009, 4:00 AM

An overwhelming majority of New Yorkers believe the terrorist thugs who planned the 9/11 attacks should and will be sentenced to death - and two-thirds of city residents say they'd be unafraid to serve on the jury.

An exclusive Daily News/Marist poll found that 77% of New Yorkers agree with President Obama that alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and his four cowardly cohorts will be found guilty in a Manhattan federal courtroom.

"If I'm on that jury, there's no doubt they get a conviction - no doubt," said Larry Amandola, 48, an electrician from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and one of a dozen regular New Yorkers interviewed separately by The News. "I had a few friends who died on Sept. 11 and I worked [at Ground Zero] immediately after. The people that suffered through this have a right to judge them."

The poll of 811 city residents, conducted Wednesday and Thursday by The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion for The News, did find New Yorkers more evenly split on some underlying policy issues.

For instance, 47% of New Yorkers said they agreed with Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to try the 9/11 plotters in a civilian court here rather than a military court. Nearly as many - 41% - disagreed with Holder, and 12% said they were unsure. The poll's margin of error was 3.5 percentage points.

Critics - chief among them former Mayor Rudy Giuliani - have argued that a civilian court trial is needlessly risky and expensive for the city and grants the accused too many rights.

But with the decision made, most New Yorkers seem eager to send their own message to the thugs who brought down the Twin Towers:

It's payback time.

"Those guys don't stand a chance," said Henry Romer, 51, a construction manager in midtown Manhattan. "There's no question they'll get the death penalty here."

"New York will get it done, because the families of the people that died won't let them do anything else," added Calvin Seibert, 51, an artist who lives in Chelsea. "It's just what you have to do. We can't let them down."

The poll found some apprehension about an Al Qaeda trial here. Fifty-two percent said they were concerned it will increase the city's risk of a terror attack, while 45% said they were not worried.

"This is going to bring more problems and more terrorists and more threats," said Cecilio Rodriguez, 30, an engineer from Flatbush.

Despite those fears, a solid 69% expressed confidence that a city jury would return the unanimous verdict required to sentence the accused terrorists to death.

And New Yorkers are equally ready to stand up and be counted: More than two-thirds said they would not be afraid to serve as a juror in the case.

"I'd be eager to sit on the jury and hear the whole story, to see history happen," said Louisa Alsen, 19, a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

An even larger 73% of those polled said ringleader Mohammed should be put to death for his crimes if convicted, and 67% said his four co-defendants should also pay the ultimate price.

And though a minority still doubt a jury in left-leaning New York would ever return a sentence of death, there is overwhelming agreement that justice would be served - one way or another.

"I don't think they're gonna get the death penalty in New York, and that's okay," said William Nieves, 27, a bakery driver from Hell's Kitchen. "They should serve life sentences because it's a worse punishment ...[Jail] will be worse than Hell. Guards, prisoners, everyone will be after them."

Steven Stegman, 67, an attorney who worked on Liberty Street when the towers came down, has no doubt New Yorkers will rise to the task of delivering justice.

"I would love to see them convicted in New York," Stegman said. "It's poetic justice ...New York can do this."


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This is very sad.

This is very sad.