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Defense Psychologist Concludes Moussaoui is Mentally Ill

A psychologist testified Tuesday that he believes confessed terror conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui is a paranoid schizophrenic who suffers from delusional thinking. The testimony came as a jury prepares to decide whether to put Moussaoui to death for his role in the September 11, 2001, terrorist plot.

Defense lawyers are hoping to convince the jury that Moussaoui's life should be spared and that he be sent to prison for life.

As part of the defense case, psychologist Xavier Amador testified that he believes Moussaoui is a paranoid schizophrenic who exhibits abnormal behavior, even for an al-Qaida terrorist.

Amador based his assessment on Moussaoui's writings and tirades in court, as well as a visit he had with the convicted terror conspirator last year in which Moussaoui repeatedly spit water at him.

Amador said Moussaoui is suffering from a delusional thought disorder that includes the belief that President Bush will one day free Moussaoui and that his court appointed lawyers are out to kill him.

Moussaoui mocked the testimony at one point, yelling out, "beautiful terrorist mind," a reference to the movie "A Beautiful Mind," which was the story of a mathematician with schizophrenia.

Prosecutors are expected to rebut the defense contention on Moussaoui's mental state with their own witnesses later in the week.

The jury in the case has already found Moussaoui eligible for the death penalty following his conviction on terror conspiracy charges last year.

Moussaoui was arrested three weeks before the 2001 terrorist attacks but told investigators nothing about his knowledge of the 9-11 plot.

Prosecutors contend the government might have been able to stop the attacks had Moussaoui told what he knew.

The jury will soon be asked to decide if Moussaoui should be put to death or sent to prison for life without chance of parole.