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Families Find Justice in Plea by Unabomber

Reaction: Agreement is praised by kin of victim Gilbert Murray and killer Theodore Kaczynski. But anger and sorrow run through their statements.


SACRAMENTO — Both families were victims of the man who Thursday admitted he was the Unabomber, but in very different ways.

One family, the wife and two sons of Gilbert Murray, was left without a father and husband.

The brother of Theodore Kaczynski, who had made the painful decision to turn him in, sat crying alongside his mother as the onetime math prodigy admitted his role in the deadly series of bombings.

On Thursday, both families found common ground. Each agreed that Kaczynski's plea bargain was just. He will spend the rest of his life behind bars, rather than face the death penalty.

"He will never, ever kill again," Connie Murray, the widow of California Forestry Assn. President Gilbert Murray, said in a statement. "The indescribable pain, no one will ever have to go through this again from this killer."

Murray was too overcome to speak for herself after the hearing. She asked FBI Chaplain Mark O'Sullivan to read her words.

O'Sullivan said the Murrays and the families of other victims had been kept informed as the government and defense attorneys negotiated the plea bargain.

"We concur with what has happened," he said, reading from Murray's notes. "It is definitely an unconditional plea, life without possibility of release."

Gilbert Murray, 47, was the Unabomber's final victim. He died April 24, 1995, when he opened a package addressed to a past head of the lobbying organization.

Although they expressed support for the plea bargain, the Murray family's anger came through as O'Sullivan spoke for them.

The statement described Kaczynski as a "cold, calculating killer with no remorse. This was terrorism. Gil Murray was assassinated, and there was no remorse, even though he killed the wrong man.

"Mr. Kaczynski fits the definition of a serial killer and this was definitely a death penalty case," O'Sullivan read. "Mr. Kaczynski saw loopholes. His manipulation of the system was very visible."

David Kaczynski, his mother by his side, read a handwritten statement outside the federal courthouse in Sacramento.

David Kaczynski praised the "civilized resolution" of the case. He also thanked the families of his brother's victims for "their remarkable grace, courage and dignity in your loss, and in this you are an inspiration to us. You will be in our thoughts and hearts forever."

Wanda Kaczynski, 80, brushed away tears as her son continued: "Most important, my mother and I wish to reiterate to the surviving victims our deep sorrow and regret, to express our wish to reach out to you in whatever way possible to ease your pain and express our love."

David and Wanda Kaczynski had been in court, seated in a row behind the defense table, as the Unabomber admitted his role in the series of explosions that claimed three lives and maimed 29. The mother maintained her composure, and at one point dabbed her son's eyes with a tissue.

Across the courtroom, the families of Kaczynski's victims sat behind the prosecution table, consulting with prosecutors on the progress of the day's events.

The group included Murray and her husband's sister, Jan, of Marina del Rey. There was also the family of Hugh Scrutton, the first Unabomb victim to die. Scrutton, a Sacramento computer rental store owner, was killed on Dec. 11, 1985, when he picked up a bomb outside his business.

UC San Francisco geneticist Charles Epstein, who lost a hand in a Unabomber blast on June 22, 1993, was in court with his wife. The bespectacled, gray-haired Epstein sat and listened attentively as Kaczynski acknowledged the bombings, one after another.

The Epsteins and Scruttons left court without talking to reporters.

If the Unabomber noticed that any of the victims were in the court, he did not acknowledge them.

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