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Trial Delay Has Residents in Limbo

Media, without trailers, look to Lindh sentencing in October

August 29, 2002

The opening of the media center just across from Carlyle Towers has once again been delayed because of a change in the date of the Zacarias Moussaoui trial.

Jury selection in the Moussaoui trial was set to begin on Sept. 30 but will now get under way on Dec. 9, with opening arguments scheduled for Jan. 6. This means a delay in the opening of the media center, originally scheduled for mid-September.

“Right now we plan to let people move into their trailers on Dec. 2,” said Barbara Gordon, the public information officer for the city of Alexandria. “This does mean that we will allow satellite transmission vehicles to park on the media center site for the Lindh sentencing and other trial-related hearings.”

The John Walker Lindh sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 4, and hundreds of members of the media from around the world are expected. “We will do the same thing that we did for the Moussaoui hearing in July,” Gordon said. “Even though the center will not technically be open, we will still use it as a staging area and a place where media can conduct interviews.”

Patricia Rudd, president and co-founder of the Carlyle-Eisenhower Civic Association, said, “We would prefer satellite trucks to trailers. Satellite trucks leave at the end of the day, and their drivers go home. When there are trailers, people will be in them 24 hours a day, seven days a week, doing office work that they would normally do somewhere else.

"Everything was very disorganized during the last hearing. People who usually use Jamison [Street] couldn’t, so they had to make a U-turn in our driveway. We were told that we would be within the security perimeter, but as far as we can tell, we are the security perimeter. Cars and trucks were allowed to turn around in our driveway without ever being checked, as far as we could tell. We want the marshals to check cars for bombs, not just check identification.”

“This is far more than we bargained for,” said Councilwoman Redella S. “Del” Pepper. “This is going to go on through the holidays now, and who knows how long. I really wish that the marshal’s office or someone could give these folks some relief. The last time I went by Carlyle Towers, it looked like a war zone. It’s so difficult over there that I try to avoid that area. I really am concerned about the inconveniences to the residents.”

THE CARLYLE Condominium Board has taken a different view. Dave Buckley, the Board’s president, spoke in support of the city’s plans to control the media, at the June 15 public hearing, and has continued to work closely with the city.

“While we would prefer that the trials not be held here, we want to have the best security possible for our residents and ensure that our lives are disrupted as little as possible,” Buckley said in June.

There are some important dates to remember relative to the trials. On Oct. 4, Lindh will be sentenced. On Nov. 18, jury questionnaires will be sent to potential jurors for the Moussaoui trial. Just before Thanksgiving, the trailers will be delivered to the media center site. On Dec. 2, the media center will be open. On Dec. 9, potential jurors will be brought to the courthouse for questioning, as jury selection begins. On Jan. 6, the trial will begin.