How did this deal differ than Kaczynski's December offer, which government prosecutors rejected? The Bureau of Prisons psychiatrist who examined Kaczynski last week gave federal prosecutors the "out" they needed: she found that although Kaczynski was competent to stand trial, he was also a paranoid schizophrenic. At that point, prosecutors realized that a death sentence finding by a jury was probably out of reach.
Meanwhile, Judge Garland Burrell Jr., impatient with the delays in the trial, ruled today that Kaczynski would not be allowed to represent himself. The defendant, stuck with his original lawyers, was out of options. The government forced him to drop the sticking point of the earlier deal: A proviso that if evidence from his Montana cabin was thrown out on appeal, Kaczynski could void the deal and go back to trial.
In the current deal, officials say, the Justice Department makes only one promise: not to seek the death penalty. The deal will be submitted to Judge Burrell sometime after 3:00 EST today; if accepted, the long-awaited Unabomber trial will be over before it ever really began.