Crazy Is As Crazy Does

Why the Unabomber agreed to trade a guilty plea for a life sentence

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Earlier, Kaczynski had offered to plead guilty only if he were not placed in a prison psychiatric facility and if he retained the right to appeal the FBI's search of his cabin. Now he and his lawyers dropped those conditions. The prosecutors consulted with Attorney General Janet Reno in Washington and with Kaczynski's victims and their families. All agreed that a certain life sentence was preferable to the risks and delays of a jury trial.

As lawyers on both sides worked to complete the plea agreement, David Kaczynski, brother of Ted, scribbled on a yellow legal pad. It was David who had turned his brother in--and who has since argued forcefully that he should be spared execution on account of his mental state. At the top of his pad, he began writing, "The reaction of my mother and I to the plea agreement..." And when he was finished, as other spectators chatted quietly among themselves, he and his mother Wanda leaned silently against each other.

By midafternoon it was all over. Never once did Ted Kaczynski acknowledge his frail, 80-year-old mother or his brother, who sat only a few feet behind him. Never once did he express regret. As he walked from the courtroom toward a lifetime in prison, he never once looked back. Connie Murray, whose husband Gilbert was killed by Kaczynski, took comfort that at least he "will never, ever kill again." David and Wanda, with the dignity they've shown throughout the proceedings, expressed their sorrow to the victims and their relief at the sentence, which David, reading from his legal pad, described as "appropriate, just and civilized."

--Reported by David S. Jackson/Sacramento and Elaine Shannon/Washington

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